OPPOSITION PARTY AGREES TO JOIN SA UNITY GOVT

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OPPOSITION PARTY AGREES TO JOIN SA UNITY GOVT

The leader of South Africa’s Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) says his party has agreed to form part of a government of national unity that includes the African National Congress (ANC) and the biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA).

Velenkosini Hlabisa told reporters at a media briefing in Durban on Wednesday: “The only options were to become part of the government, or part of the opposition.”

“The people of South Africa who voted said that political parties must find a common ground,” Mr Hlabisa said.

South Africans have been eagerly waiting to know who would form the next government after the ANC lost its majority in last month’s elections.

This is the first official indication that a government of national unity has been agreed, although the DA and ANC have not yet commented.

The ANC has previously said it wanted to form a unity government and had engaged with all of the country’s opposition parties.

The new parliament is due to be sworn in on Friday, after the country’s top court dismissed a bid by former President Jacob Zuma’s party, MK, to stop its first sitting.

This is when the parliament is expected to elect a president, so the ANC would hope to have agreed a deal by then. It insists that Cyril Ramaphosa must remain the country’s leader.

The ANC vote fell below 50% for the first time since Nelson Mandela led them to victory in 1994 and ended the racist system of apartheid, forcing them to look for coalition partners.

The ANC got about 40% of the vote, with the centre-right Democratic Alliance (DA) on 22%, the MK party on 15% and the radical Economic Freedom Fighters on 9%.

The IFP got about 4% of the vote share in the election.

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