Molefe Seeletsa

Compiled by Molefe Seeletsa

Digital Journalist

What will happen if coalition talks fail to form a government?

The first sitting of the National Assembly has to elect a new president.

Amid debates about a Government of National Unity (GNU), it remains to be seen whether political parties will agree to form a coalition to govern South Africa.

Following the 2024 national and provincial elections, the African National Congress (ANC) no longer holds a majority after dipping below 50%.

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As a results, the party is now compelled to embark on collaborative efforts with other parties to ensure that its presidential candidate gets the majority of votes in Parliament and establish a government, a process that must be completed by 17 June.

National Assembly sitting

This deadline is set due to the requirement that the inaugural session of the National Assembly convenes within 14 days following the declaration of election results, which took place on 2 June.

Chief Justice, Raymond Zondo, will determine and gazette the date for this sitting.

ALSO READ: Ready, set, govern: Chief Justice Zondo gears up for parliamentary transition

Zondo has already gazetted the rules for the first sittings of the National Assembly, the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) and all nine provincial legislatures.

The rules outline the procedures for the swearing-in of MPs as well as the election of the president, speaker and deputy speaker of the National Assembly.

Snap election?

The ANC has disclosed that it has conducted a series of meetings with the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the Democratic Alliance (DA), and the Patriotic Alliance (PA) to form a GNU.

The party also made unsuccessful attempts to initiate discussions with the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party.

Additionally, smaller political parties have written to Zondo seeking his intervention regarding the formation of a coalition government.

But what happens if a president is not elected and a government can’t be formed?

Another election must be held and conducted by the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) after 90 days in such a scenario.

In terms of the law, if the result of an election of the National Assembly is not declared within the prescribed period or if an election is set aside by a court then the president, by proclamation, must call and set dates for an election.

READ MORE: IEC needs to do better in future elections – panel

This election must be held within 90 days of the expiry of that period or of the date on which the election was set aside, according to Section 49(3) of the Constitution.

IEC chief electoral officer (CEO) Sy Mamabolo has stated that he hopes government will be constituted to avoid a “snap election”.

“Well we hope that things don’t get to that [point], but in the event this materialises in that direction then the commission would have to be ready to fulfil its constitutional obligations.

“So it would mean effectively that we have a snap election and we are impelled by the Constitution to prepare accordingly,” he told Newzroom Afrika this week.

“We need 90 days from the day the snap election is called,” Mamabolo added.

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