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GNU coalition in crisis

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In a recent communication to President Cyril Ramaphosa, DA leader John Steenhuisen has outlined the party’s revised stance on Cabinet positions in the GNU coalition government.

DA leader John Steenhuisen. File picture

IN A RECENT communication to President Cyril Ramaphosa, Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen has outlined the party’s revised stance on cabinet positions in the GNU coalition government.

This development follows a public outcry over a leaked letter from DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille detailing the party’s initial demands.

According to Steenhuisen, the DA has been offered six cabinet portfolios: Home Affairs; Basic Education; Trade, Industry and Competition (DTIC); Public Works and Infrastructure; Communications and Digital Technologies; and Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment.

Additionally, the party has been offered deputy ministerial positions in Finance (with full cabinet committee rights), Energy and Electricity, Small Business Development, and one other to be determined.

The DA’s Richard Newton and several other sources confirmed that the letter to Ramaphosa was authentic.

Steenhuisen expressed cautious satisfaction with the offer, stating, “In terms of the quality of the portfolios listed above – both in Cabinet and in terms of Deputy Ministries – the DA is satisfied and regards these as a serious offer.”

However, he noted concerns within the party regarding the allocation.

“In terms of the quantum of portfolios, there remains concern within our structures that the DA is sacrificing from our proportional allocation more than the ANC,” Steenhuisen said.

“On a purely proportional basis, out of a Cabinet of 30, the DA’s share of support within the GNU translates to nine positions rather than the six that are currently on the table.”

Sources close to the negotiations suggest that disagreements persist, particularly regarding the DTIC portfolio.

Some ANC insiders reportedly oppose allocating this ministry to the DA, causing a delay in the conclusion of the talks.

One source, speaking on condition of anonymity, claimed, “Ebrahim Rasool is earmarked to take over the DTIC. But at the centre of his take-over is to ensure that the big multi-billion rand National Lottery deal could be given to HCI (Hoskins Consolidated Investments), which is run by Johnny Copeland. HCI has made a bid for the operating licence.”

The same source alleged that Ramaphosa faces pressure from an undisclosed foreign agency threatening to release a sensitive report related to the Phala Phala scandal if he does not accede to most DA demands.

The DA had asked the FBI to investigate the legality of the possession of the quantum of the US dollars confirmed to have been at Phala Phala.

In a move that appears to signal flexibility, Steenhuisen proposed additional options for DA representation.

“In addition to the six existing Cabinet portfolios which we accept, another two portfolios will be allocated to the DA out of the options of Sports, Arts and Culture, Agriculture, Rural Development and Land Reform or Public Service and Administration,” he suggested.

Steenhuisen added that the DA would accept moving public sector wage negotiations from Public Service and Administration to the Minister of Finance if necessary.

Sources suggest the DA may be positioning itself for further gains, with rumoured ambitions for Steenhuisen to secure the Ministry in the Presidency and potential plans to elevate Zille to the Deputy Presidency, should current Deputy President Paul Mashatile face legal challenges.

Rumours of the imminent arrest of Mashatile remain persistent.

As negotiations continue, the final composition of the proposed coalition government remains uncertain.

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