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IANS Analysis: Will South Africa's new coalition government herald a change in the country's orientation?

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IANS Analysis: Will South Africa's new coalition government herald a change in the country's orientation?

New Delhi, June 16 (IANS) Losing its parliamentary majority for the first time in the post-apartheid era, South Africa’s African National Congress is back in power under President Cyril Ramaphosa – but with the support of several coalition partners, including those whose stands in key policy areas are different. What will this portend for the continent’s powerhouse?

The ANC, which saw its vote share slump to 40 per cent and seats to 159 in the 400-member Assembly, was likely to return to power as any coalition without it, as the single largest party, was theoretically possible but practically impossible given the different political outlooks of the next five parties, spanning from far-right to far-left.

The present coalition is now largely centrist, given the centre-left and centre-right orientations of its two largest parties.

For the business community and inventors, there will be relief at the make-up of the new ruling dispensation as the crucial partner is the centre-right, pro-business Democratic Alliance, which secured 22 per cent in the May 29 polls, giving it 87 seats, propelling the coalition to well above the majority mark.

The leftist alternatives – uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), led by former President Jacob Zuma, which garnered 15 per cent (58 seats) to dethrone the old number three, the radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which only got 10 per cent (39) – would have been more natural partners for the left-leaning ANC, but not in the present circumstances.

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The acrimony between Zuma and Ramaphosa, whom the former blames for his ouster from power and subsequent travails, ruled out any chance of their coming together, as the MK and Zuma repeatedly announced. On the other hand, the EFF’s plan of nationalisation and repossessing of land, seemed a little too far-fetched for the ANC to countenance, given that the prevailing economic malaise had led the voters to turn their faces away from it to bring it to this state.

Things could be tense with the DA too.

An amalgam of various groups emerging out of the apartheid-era National Party, it is largely deemed a party representing the country’s white minority. Under John Steenhuisen, its vote share in the May 29 election rose just a percentage point over 2019, indicating it has not capitalised on the ANC’s decline to gain much support among the black voters, but seems to have drawn the white voters it lost in 2019 when it was headed by Mmusi Maimane.

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The key point of contention between the two biggest partners could be over the ANC’s national healthcare policy, and its black economic empowerment programme, which the DA opposes as ineffective and the few benefits flowing in snapped by ANC leaders and their acolytes rather than the targeted population.

However, there might be some give or take on it as the ruling coalition proceeds with governance.

Foreign affairs could be another issue of tension, especially over the case of the Gaza conflict in which South Africa had taken a strident anti-Israel stand, snapping diplomatic links and espousing the Palestinian conflict in international forums including the International Court of Justice.

However, it remains to be seen how all these issues will play out.

The coalition alliance, which represents a broad social spectrum, seems a positive sign, given the two largest parties are joined by the fifth largest party, the Zulu-supported Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), with 17 seats from its around 4 per cent of the vote, as well as the far-rightish Patriotic Alliance, which brings another 9 seats.

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The ANC and the IFP, earlier headed by Mangosuthu Buthelezi, also had their own set of problems, especially the frequent incidents of violence between supporters of the ANC and the IFP, leading to scores of deaths. The IFP, however, remained an ally of the ANC till 2004.

Returning to a coalition with the ANC, the party now headed by Velenkosini Hlabisa since September 2023, looks to advance beyond its Zulu base, and strive for its chance in the sun, given the results of the present elections.

The ANC, which swept the 1994 polls – the first multi-racial after the end of the apartheid regime – under Nelson Mandela, had entered into a coalition then too, but the motive then was inclusivity, not necessity like the present. Under it, South Africa had greatly transformed. The performance of the coalition now will be key not only for the country, but also for the region, the continent, and the Global South.

(Vikas Datta can be contacted at vikas.d@ians.in)

–IANS

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International

Three killed in road accident in Afghanistan

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Three killed in road accident in Afghanistan

Three killed in road accident in Afghanistan

Charikar, July 25 (IANS) Three commuters lost their lives and three others were injured following a road accident in Afghanistan’s Parwan province on Thursday morning, police said.

The accident occurred in Siagard district when a passenger car rammed into a truck, leaving three dead including two women, and injuring three others, said Fazal Rahim Muskinyar, spokesman for the provincial police.

Three women, who were injured in the accident, were transported to the provincial hospital for treatment, Xinhua news agency reported.

Dilapidated roads, reckless driving, overspeeding, overloading, and lack of safety measures often cause deadly accidents in Afghanistan.

–IANS

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One missing after oil tanker capsizes in Philippines

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One missing after oil tanker capsizes in Philippines

One missing after oil tanker capsizes in Philippines

Manila, July 25 (IANS) One person went missing after an oil tanker sank in the Philippines’ Bataan province on Thursday, Philippine Coast Guard (PCG) personnel said.

Rear Admiral Armando Balilo said the vessel, Motor Tanker Terra Nova, carrying 1.4 million litters of industrial fuel oil, capsized and eventually sank 3.6 nautical miles east of Limay town around 1:10 a.m. local time Thursday, Xinhua news agency reported.

Balilo said the vessel was sailing south to Iloilo province in the central Philippines when the accident happened.

Balilo said the Coast Guardsmen rescued 16 of the 17 crew, four of whom were injured. “The search and rescue operation for the missing crew is ongoing,” he added.

According to Balilo, a marine environmental protection team has been sent to the area to combat oil spills, and an investigation is underway to find the cause of the accident.

–IANS

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Two killed after cattle-mustering choppers crash in Australia (Ld)

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Two killed after cattle-mustering choppers crash in Australia (Ld)

Two killed after cattle-mustering choppers crash in Australia (Ld)

Sydney, July 25 (IANS) Two people were killed after two helicopters crashed in Western Australia on Thursday, police said.

The incident took place near Mount Anderson Station in Camballin, a small town in the state’s Kimberley region, Xinhua news agency reported.

Emergency services were notified of the crash at about 6:20 a.m. local time.

Early indications suggested that two cattle-mustering helicopters collided shortly after taking off.

“Both helicopters only had one person on board. Sadly, both pilots – a 29-year-old man and a 30-year-old man – died as a result of injuries received during the crash,” said the Western Australia Police Force.

According to police, the Australian Transport Safety Bureau also received notifications and would conduct a transport safety investigation into the incident.

–IANS

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One injured as bus crashes into car in Australia

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One injured as bus crashes into car in Australia

One injured as bus crashes into car in Australia

Sydney, July 25 (IANS) A female driver remained in critical condition on Thursday after her car collided with a bus carrying students in Western Australia’s capital Perth.

At approximately 8.20 a.m. local time on Wednesday, the Western Australian Police Force received reports of a collision between a sedan and a bus at the intersection of Ellen Stirling Bvd and Oswald St in Innaloo, Xinhua news agency reported.

The bus was carrying approximately 50 passengers, with both the driver and passengers escaping the crash unscathed. Police didn’t confirm if all those onboard were schoolchildren.

“The female driver of the Hyundai was trapped in the vehicle and was extracted by the Department of Fire and Emergency Services before being conveyed by ambulance to Royal Perth Hospital with serious injuries,” said police.

On Thursday, local media revealed that the severely injured woman continued to fight for her life in the intensive care.

A passenger on the bus recalled to the West Australian that the car tried to cross lanes when it smashed into the side of the bus.

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According to the WA Education Department, at least nine senior high school students were on the bus when the accident occurred.

With an estimated population of more than 9,000 residents, the Innaloo suburb is located 9 km northeast of Perth’s central business district.

–IANS

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Australia reports midair collision between two helicopters in Kimberley region

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Australia reports midair collision between two helicopters in Kimberley region

Australia reports midair collision between two helicopters in Kimberley region

Sydney, July 25 (IANS) Two helicopters were reported to have collided in midair on Thursday in Western Australia, with injuries unknown at the current stage.

According to a statement by the Western Australia Police Force, the incident took place near Mount Anderson Station in Camballin, a small town in the state’s Kimberley region, Xinhua news agency reported.

Emergency services were notified of the crash at about 6:20 a.m. local time on Thursday morning.

“Early indications suggest two helicopters collided shortly after take-off. It is believed both helicopters were solely occupied by a pilot,” police said.

Authorities also noted that at this time, details of those on board and the extent of their injuries are unknown.

–IANS

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