South Africa at a Cross Road: Will the Government of National Unity Work?

Written by Elizabeth Adundo, Kenya

South Africa is at a crossroads. The recent parliamentary election shows that no single party holds the majority of seats. Both the ANC and the DA need allies to form a coalition in order to implement their presidential and legislative plans for the country. To achieve a heavy majority, the ANC can team up with the EFF and former President Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party. However, one major stumbling block to this approach is the issue of land expropriation. The EFF supports land expropriation without compensation, while the ANC has promised a more moderate approach, such as expropriation in the public interest. Alternatively, the ANC could form a Government of National Unity (GNU) with the inclusion of other parties, such as the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) or the Good Party. President Cyril Ramaphosa is reportedly open to entering into a coalition with the DA despite their policy differences

The situation in South Africa sees the ANC and DA at odds in terms of their policies on various key issues such as creating a welfare state, national health service, black empowerment policies, and the free market. The DA strongly opposes many of the ANC’s initiatives, and ANC chairman Gwede Mantashe has indicated that the ANC’s black empowerment policies are non-negotiable, suggesting that he has ruled out a coalition with the DA. Despite this, there are indications in the local media that President Ramaphosa is willing to enter into a coalition with the DA, believing that their policy differences could be overcome.

The formation of a Government of National Unity (GNU) could also be an option, involving other parties, such as the mainly black Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the Good party, to overcome racial sensitivities and form a more inclusive government.

These developments illustrate the complexities and the need for negotiation and compromise in forming a coalition government in South Africa.

The historical context of the Government of National Unity from 1994 to 1997, under the leadership of Nelson Mandela, provides an example of a multi-party coalition to govern the country, which could offer insights into potential future options and strategies for building a coalition.

Given the complex and evolving nature of the situation, it will be important to stay updated on the developments as the parties continue to consider their options and negotiate the formation of the next government.

The political landscape in South Africa is complex as different parties consider their options for forming a coalition government. The ANC faces the potential option of forming a coalition with MK, a party that secured a significant portion of the vote in the recent election. The ANC and EFF together are just short of a parliamentary majority, so they may need to bring in another smaller party to form a coalition government.

The EFF, which also supports land expropriation without compensation, has expressed a willingness to work with the ANC in a coalition government, but has made it clear that their demand for land expropriation is a crucial principle and they would not join the government if the ANC rejects it.

Despite these intricacies, the DA has strongly opposed a coalition involving the ANC, EFF, and MK, labeling it a “Doomsday Coalition” and warning of potential ethnic and racial conflict. The DA advocates for an ANC-DA coalition, which it believes would provide economic stability and prevent capital flight.

As the parties continue to consider their options, it remains unclear how the government will be formed. However, with the anticipation of the parliament convening in the near future, there is a hope among many South Africans for at least an outline deal on what the next government will look like.

This ongoing process highlights the complexity and the need for negotiation and compromise in forming a coalition government in South Africa. It will be important to stay updated on the developments as the parties navigate their options and seek to form a government that represents the interests of the nation.



South African Elections: What happens next?

Written By; Elizabeth Adundo – Yogo
Head of Secretariat, ODM Women League, Kenya!
Photos by; Bent Nicolajsen, Program Manager – Danish Liberal Democracy Programme

After the official release of the results from the IEC on the South African Elections here are some quick facts:

Ahead of the May 29 elections, a record 27.7 million South Africans registered to vote. However, only 16.2 million votes were cast on Election Day, resulting in a voter turnout of 58.61 percent – the lowest ever in South Africa’s 30-year democratic history.

The ANC managed enough votes to secure more than 50 percent in five out of South Africa’s nine provinces: Limpopo (74 percent), the Eastern Cape (63 percent), North West (58 percent), Free State (53 percent), and Mpumalanga (52 percent).

In the Northern Cape (49 percent) and Gauteng (36 percent), the ANC fell short of a majority and will need to find coalition partners to form the government.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) will continue to govern the Western Cape (53 percent), which it has done since 2009.

And in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), former President Jacob Zuma’s MK received the highest number of votes at some 46 percent, ahead of the ANC which managed about 18 percent.

 Of nearly 39,000 South Africans who voted from outside the country (The diaspora voters) more than 75 percent voted for the DA.

Photos by; Bent Nicolajsen, Program Manager – Danish Liberal Democracy Programme

How the president is elected and what happens next?

As I had mentioned in my previous post, South Africans do not directly vote for the president.

Instead, they elect the members of the National Assembly, who then elect the president by a simple majority – 201 or more votes determine the presidency.

Following the IEC’s announcement of results, certain procedural steps must be followed for South Africa to form a government. They include:

Allocation of seats: Seats in the 400-member National Assembly are proportionately allocated based on the election results.

First sitting of the National Assembly: Within 14 days of the election results, the newly elected National Assembly must hold its first sitting, where members are sworn in and the speaker is elected.

Election of the president: During the first sitting, or soon after, the National Assembly elects the president of South Africa, who is then responsible for appointing the cabinet and forming the government.

Formation of government: Once the president is elected, the process of forming a government, including the appointment of ministers, usually follows.

The entire process is usually completed within a couple of weeks to ensure a smooth transition of power and continuity of governance.


African Elections: Why is Youth Turn Out Low?

Written By; Elizabeth Adundo – Yogo
Head of Secretariat, ODM Women League, Kenya

In the 2020 US elections, young people seem poised for unprecedented levels of participation. “Young voters are going to be key to winning 2020,” declared one CNN headline. “These 7 Million Young People Can Beat Trump,” another headline on a New York Times op-ed, referenced those just coming of voting age in that election cycle.

These headlines are not new in many democracies, they often reflect in surge in youth activism, particularly protests around racial injustice, corruption, limited job opportunities and police brutality. In Kenya, just before the 2022 elections, pollsters offered a promise of increased youth engagement. According to a February poll of 18- to 29-year-olds, 83% believe people their age have the power to change the country. In June, a survey of college students found that 71% are “absolutely certain” they will vote in the upcoming election.

However, if history is any guide, these indicators of youth enthusiasm and interest will not necessarily translate to the ballot box.

In the recent concluded elections in South Africa, the story is way too familiar.

Photos by; Bent Nicolajsen, Program Manager – Danish Liberal Democracy Programme

The empirical reality is that young people have always had dismal turnout rates. Despite being one of the largest potential voting blocs in the electorate, the majority of young people do not vote—not in 2024, or in previous elections. In fact, older voters often turn out at twice the rate of young people in parliamentary and/or presidential elections. This gap is even larger in local elections, where the turnout rate among older voters leads by about 50 percentage points. To put this in context, the difference in voting between young and older citizens is larger than the gaps found when comparing race and ethnicity, education, or socioeconomic status.

The gap in turnout between younger and older African voters is among the worst in the world.

And these turnout disparities have significant consequences in our civic life as Africans. Not only is it concerning because of the disparity in democratic participation, research shows that it has policy consequences, shaping not only who gets elected but also which policies get implemented. This is reflected in the way that Social Security is considered an untouchable third rail in politics, yet education spending is not.

Why is youth turnout so low? What can we do about it?

Photos by; Bent Nicolajsen, Program Manager – Danish Liberal Democracy Programme

The cause of low youth turnout has been misdiagnosed, with conventional wisdom holding that younger people fail to turn out because they are apathetic and disillusioned about politics. The common refrain is that Millennials are cynical and self-absorbed, more concerned about taking selfies than impacting politics. But protests in the streets and the poll numbers clearly indicate that the conventional wisdom is wrong; the reason for low levels of youth turnout cannot be because of a lack of political interest or political motivation. In fact, over the past five presidential elections, an average of 85% of 18- to 29-year-olds surveyed before the elections said they are interested in politics, 74% said they care who gets elected, and 81% said they intend to vote. Political motivation is already high among young people, so this can’t be the key to improving youth turnout.

The real problem among young people is that they often fail to follow through on their civic attitudes and intentions. The gap between intending to vote and actually voting is much larger for young people than for older ones. The key to understanding and solving youth turnout is identifying why young people fail to follow through on their participatory intentions.

What are the obstacles that impede young people from following through on their civic intentions?

In Kenya, Voter registration is an ongoing exercise, however, it’s still the lowest among the young people, in South Africa, the story is the same, and Voter registration among young people is the lowest of all age demographics

ISS researcher and author Lauren Tracey conducted 49 one-on-one interviews and 277 focus-group discussions with over 2 000 students in high school, Further Education and Training (FET) and university to understand what drives some young people to vote and discourages others.

Tracey’s research findings highlight that this demographic group, in rural and urban areas across all nine provinces, is concerned about four major problems – unemployment, corruption, poor infrastructure and poor education.

Photos by; Bent Nicolajsen, Program Manager – Danish Liberal Democracy Programme

‘Young people are growing increasingly frustrated with these issues that continue to plague South Africa’, says Tracey. ‘Although they acknowledge the importance of voting, our findings show that young people often don’t identify voting as the best way to bring about change.’

She notes that corruption is a major disincentive to voting. Same story as their counterparts in Kenya.

‘The participants said that politics is full of corruption and self-enrichment, and they see no reason why they should be interested in it, as they gain nothing from politics and voting.

‘There are signs that the ruling African National Congress’ popularity is waning amongst young people and that this is a generation more open to changing their political allegiance than are their parents.’

According to the research, action taken in three areas could increase young people’s participation in elections: improving civic and voter education programs in schools; meaningful and dynamic outreach to the youth to raise awareness about politics and democracy; and using technology and social media better to link decision-makers and political elites with ‘hard-to-reach’ groups, such as young people.

Photos by; Bent Nicolajsen, Program Manager – Danish Liberal Democracy Programme

Le Président de l’ALN rencontre Nihrane Abdelsalam,ancien vice-président ALN… Discuter des sujets cruciaux pour le développement du réseau et continent

Écrit par Jawad Chafil, Vice-président de l’ALN pour l’Afrique du Nord



J’ai eu le privilège de faciliter une réunion à Casablanca avec Maître Gilbert Noël Ouédraogo, président du Réseau libéral africain du Burkina Faso, et Monsieur Nihrane Abdelsalam, ancien vice-président du réseau et l’un de ses fondateurs depuis 20 ans. Au cours de cette réunion, nous avons abordé une multitude de sujets cruciaux pour le développement de notre réseau et de notre continent.

Points principaux abordés :

Développements politiques en Afrique, avec un accent sur les résultats potentiels des élections en Afrique du Sud et ma perspective sur ces élections.

Vision de Sa Majesté le Roi Mohamed VI sur l’ouverture du Maroc sur le Sahel et l’Atlantique, ainsi que la coopération Sud-Sud. L’ Initiative Royale visant à renforcer la connectivité et le développement économique dans la région, en particulier en facilitant l’accès aux ports atlantiques pour les pays enclavés.

Défis posés par les changements climatiques en Afrique, avec des discussions sur l’adaptation aux changements climatiques, la promotion des énergies renouvelables et la réduction des émissions de gaz à effet de serre.

Potentiel du commerce intra-africain et les obstacles persistants tels que les infrastructures inadéquates, les barrières commerciales et les défis logistiques.

Renforcement de la coopération entre les partis membres pour relever les défis politiques, économiques et sociaux.

Exploration des opportunités de croissance et de développement pour le réseau et ses membres, notamment par le biais de partenariats avec des organisations régionales et internationales et le renforcement des capacités des partis membres.


From Kenya to South Africa: A Newcomer’s Insight into Election Observation

Written By: Elizabeth Adundo- Yogo

CEO- ODM Women League, Kenya

Photos by; Bent Nicolajsen, Program Manager – Danish Liberal Democracy Programme

The Africa Liberal Network (ALN), in collaboration with the Danish Liberal Democracy Program (DLDP), The Friedrich Naumann Foundation (FNF), and the Democratic Alliance (DA) Party, organized a week-long election observation mission in South Africa for Liberal Democrat institutions from around the world.  

The mission included representatives from Burkina Faso, Denmark, Ghana, Kenya, Tanzania, Sweden, DRC, Zambia, Gambia, Morocco, Malawi, Germany, Netherlands, the United Kingdom, and the United States.

On May 29th, South Africa held its 2024 national and provincial elections, marking a critical crossroads for the nation. Amid rising voter discontent, shifting political alliances, and the historic inclusion of independent candidates, the current landscape of uncertainty and desire for change echoes the pivotal 1994 elections. This election represents a crucial opportunity for South Africans to shape their country’s future once again.

This is the country’s seventh democratic general election since the end of apartheid in 1994, when Nelson Mandela was elected president and the ANC secured 62.5% of the 400 seats in the National Assembly.

How does the South Africa election work?

South Africa employs a proportional voting system where parties and candidates compete for 400 seats in the National Assembly. For the first time, independent candidates are participating in the elections,

requiring voters to use three ballots instead of two, each with a choice of one party or candidate.

Two ballots are for electing the National Assembly, and the third is for electing members of the provincial legislature in each of South Africa’s nine provinces. The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) cleared 14,889 candidates, including 70 political parties and 11 independents, to contest 887 seats in the May vote.


Photos by; Bent Nicolajsen, Program Manager – Danish Liberal Democracy Programme

South Africans face another pivotal moment three decades after the landmark 1994 elections. The uncertainty and apprehension surrounding the potential outcome and consequences of the 2024 elections mirror the feelings experienced by the nation on April 27, 1994. Notably, over a third (35%) of registered voters express that “no political party truly represents their views,” highlighting the complex political landscape and the yearning for change.

A First-Time Observer’s Perspective

As a first-time election observer, this experience was enlightening on many levels. Prior to the elections, we received briefings from election specialists, gaining a deeper understanding of South Africa’s unique electoral system. We also attended the DA’s final rally at Benoni Stadium, witnessing the energy and enthusiasm of its supporters. The event offered a glimpse into the effort required to mobilize voters.

Given the significance of these elections for South Africa’s future, we were fortunate to meet with key contenders, learning about their journeys and visions for a new South Africa.

Election Day Observations

On election day, our 20-person team split into three groups, each visiting at least three polling stations in Gauteng Province. Despite technological issues causing delays in opening some stations, the process ran

Photos by; Bent Nicolajsen, Program Manager – Danish Liberal Democracy Programme

One striking difference from my home country, Kenya, was the presence of political party branding and merchandise outside polling centers. In Kenya, no branded materials are allowed near the polling stations. Another notable difference was the voting hours: 7 am to 9 pm in South Africa compared to 6 am to 6 pm in Kenya.

Just like the passionate young DA members we met, the hundreds of young people we encountered in the long queues expressed a desire for change. This shared aspiration underscores the importance of these elections for shaping South Africa’s future.

As the world awaits the results, the question remains: will the desire for change translate into concrete action?

The writer is part of the ALN, DA, DLDP, and Friedrich Naumann Foundation as part of the elections observer study tour.

ALN Statements & Resolutions


Africa Liberal Network Commends President Macky Sall for Exemplary Conduct of Senegal’s Recent Election 
29th of March 2024

Africa Liberal Network in Solidarity with the Liberal  Parties Competing in the Senegalese Presidential Election 
March 20th 2024
Concerns Over the Arrest and Detainment of Dr. Ablasse OUEDRAOGU
28th December 2023
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