South Africa’s Ramaphosa says violence has no place after election

By Thomson Reuters Jun 3, 2024 | 1:04 AM

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Monday there was no place for threats of violence or instability after last week’s election cost his African National Congress (ANC) party its majority for the first time.

The result, announced on Sunday, was the worst election showing for the ANC, Africa’s oldest liberation movement, once led by Nelson Mandela, since it came to power 30 years ago, ending white minority rule.

Voters angry at joblessness, inequality and rolling power blackouts slashed support for the ANC to 40.2%, down from 57.5% in the previous 2019 parliamentary vote.

The result means the ANC must share power, probably with a major political rival, to keep it – an unprecedented prospect in South Africa’s post-apartheid history.

“This moment in our country calls for responsible leadership and constructive engagement,” Ramaphosa told the nation in a weekly newsletter. “There can be no place for threats of violence or instability.”

The sharp drop in ANC support has fuelled speculation that Ramaphosa’s days might be numbered, either due to the demands of a prospective coalition partner or as a result of an internal leadership challenge.

But so far senior party officials have publicly backed him, and analysts say he has no obvious successor.

Former president Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto we Sizwe party has said it is considering a court challenge to the election results, despite performing much better than many had expected to come in third with 14.6% of the vote.

Analysts have long feared Zuma’s party may stir up trouble if his supporters, who rioted and looted for days when he was arrested for contempt of court in 2021, reject the results.

Ramaphosa added, “South Africans must stand firm against any attempts to undermine the constitutional order … for which so many struggled and sacrificed.”

(Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)