South Africa's ANC says looking forward to national unity government


African National Congress (ANC) Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula (R) briefs the media after a meeting of the ANC's National Executive Committee in Cape Town, South Africa, on June 13, 2024. [Xinhua]

South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) looks forward to the establishment of a government of national unity, said the party's Secretary-General Fikile Mbalula on Thursday.

Mbalula made the remarks on the eve of the  first sitting of the National Assembly, lower house of parliament, on Friday to elect the South African president for the next five years.

"The ANC looks forward to the commencement of the seventh democratic parliament and the establishment of the government of national unity," Mbalula told a press briefing after a meeting of the ANC's National Executive Committee on Wednesday evening in Cape Town, the legislative capital of South Africa.

Mbalula said his party's negotiation team has over the past week held multiple engagements and discussions with political parties that will receive seats in the parliament, including the main opposition party Democratic Alliance, the Inkatha Freedom Party and several other small groups.

"We have reached a breakthrough on the common agreement that we need to work together, whether others call this government of national unity or they call it any other thing for that matter," he noted. "But we have agreed with these political parties that we need to gravitate to the center."

The ANC secretary-general also stressed that his party is "not going to retreat on the concept of the government of national unity, because we believe that the government of national unity, to us, represents the outcome of the elections."

"We did not get an outright majority," Mbalula said. "We are in no position to govern this country alone."

"The ANC is humbled by the fact that the spirit of the engagement with all South Africa's political parties has been characterized by the common commitment to put the interests of the people first, and to ensure that our country comes together to address the common challenges it faces," he added.

In the general elections held on May 29, the ANC secured 159 out of the 400 seats in the National Assembly, for the first time falling below the 50 percent needed to maintain its 30-year-old unchallenged majority in the lower house of parliament.