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'We are not desperate,' says ANC as it prepares to enter coalition talks

Party says it's willing to sit in opposition benches should it not find suitable partners with whom to form governments.

ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte is flanked by ANC head of elections, Fikile Mbalula, and treasurer Paul Mashatile, as she addresses the media at the IEC results centre.
ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte is flanked by ANC head of elections, Fikile Mbalula, and treasurer Paul Mashatile, as she addresses the media at the IEC results centre.

The ANC said on Wednesday it was not desperate to form governments of coalition in several municipalities across the country after it failed to win them with an outright majority.

The party has maintained that despite a poor showing in the local government elections, it will not be going into coalition negotiations from a position of weakness.

The ANC dipped below the 50% mark nationally in the election and is heading towards losing several of its municipalities.

The party has already deployed its national executive committee member Jeff Radebe to lead a team to negotiate coalitions in KwaZulu-Natal where it was seemingly rejected in key areas.

The party will need coalition partners to run the majority of municipalities in Gauteng. It may also need partners to run eThekwini, Mangaung and small municipalities across the country.

Addressing journalists at the Electoral Commission's  results centre in Pretoria, ANC top six members Jessie Duarte and Paul Mashatile insisted that the party was “not obliterated” and that the ANC was still leading.

By the 78% vote counting mark, the ANC had 46.1% of the national vote while DA followed with 21.75% and the EFF had 10.32% of the vote.

“Remember that we are not negotiating from a position of weakness. I think the numbers speak for themselves,” said Duarte.

“We will put forward strong perspectives and we hope that people who would want to go into coalitions with us would be equally strong. You also don’t go into coalitions with weak parties, you want to go into coalition with [stronger parties] and there are a number of smaller parties that we will consider —  some we won’t.”

She said “nothing was off the table” in terms of the type of coalitions they go into.

“Nothing is off the table, there are many different types of coalitions.”

Duarte said they would not consider going into a coalition with a party that has a racist agenda or that doesn’t believe in local economic development and pro-BEE.

“However, having said that, coalitions are about compromises and we will be principled without compromising legacy principles of the ANC. So that’s the kind of discussion we will be happy to have with any political party,” Duarte said.

Mashatile echoed her sentiments, saying the ANC would not go into coalitions “at any cost” and that there would be areas where the party would rather opt to be in the opposition benches.

The ANC looks likely to go into coalition talks with the EFF, a party with which it has so far had informal talks.

“To date, we have not approached anybody directly, we’ve had informal discussions on the floor. There are some parties that are a bridge too far and we haven’t approached them.”

Mashatile admitted that coalitions were sometimes messy, which is why they would go into the negotiations prepared with their demands, which place service delivery at the centre.

“Coalitions are messy, yet the way voters voted they have put us in that situation. I think we should, in SA, begin to understand that we have to work within that environment,” Mashatile said.

“Coalitions are messy if you start on the wrong footing, that’s why we are carefully considering how we are going to go into it. First, when we go into government we want to deliver services to our people, therefore we must choose to work with those who will be helping us to pursue that agenda. If we approach it that way it won’t be messy because it’s not a marriage of convenience, we agree on a programme, we pursue that programme together.”

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