DA Wants John Steenhuisen as Deputy President in GNU

John Steenhuisen

As President Cyril Ramaphosa prepares to unveil a new Cabinet, the Democratic Alliance (DA) is pushing for significant representation in the government of national unity (GNU). They are demanding that DA leader John Steenhuisen be appointed as deputy president and that at least 10 of their MPs hold key economic portfolios.

Ramaphosa’s Cabinet Unveiling Delayed

President Ramaphosa was expected to announce his Cabinet on Sunday following his inauguration at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. However, the DA’s demands have caused a delay of several days.

Stalemate in Negotiations

Negotiations between the African National Congress (ANC) and DA have reached an impasse. The ANC offered three Cabinet posts to the DA, which falls short of the DA’s demand for 10 of the 30 available posts.

Steenhuisen for Deputy President?

Reports indicate that the DA’s negotiating team is firmly advocating for John Steenhuisen to be appointed as deputy president, diverging from their earlier stance that Paul Mashatile would remain in that position.

A DA insider stated, “The ANC told us they were entitled to the positions of president and speaker because they are the largest minority party in the GNU. By that same logic, the DA must get the position of deputy president for our leader, because we are the second-largest party. This is the norm in coalition governments the world over.”

ANC’s Response

The ANC has deemed the DA’s demands unacceptable. A top ANC leader noted that with more parties joining the GNU, including the UDM, Patriotic Alliance, PAC, Rise Mzansi, and FF+, the Cabinet posts available have become limited.

Despite the deadlock, both parties have agreed to keep communication lines open, with negotiations expected to continue.

DA’s Desired Portfolios

The DA is aiming to manage the following portfolios:

  • Communication and Digital Technology
  • Trade and Industry
  • Transport
  • Public Service and Administration
  • Water and Sanitation
  • Local Government
  • Health

Additionally, the DA seeks the deputy minister posts for finance and health.

Potential for Political Conflict

Former DA leader Tony Leon highlighted the possibility of the ANC and other GNU parties banding together against the DA on certain issues. Each party in the GNU will advocate for its policies, necessitating compromises for the coalition to function effectively.

Clause 19: Sufficient Consensus in the GNU

According to Leon, clause 19 of the GNU agreement stipulates that if disagreements arise, parties must discuss them. The parties may convene a council to resolve issues. If they cannot reach consensus, the parties that constitute 60% of the GNU break the deadlock, maintaining the balance of power.


The DA’s demand for substantial representation in Ramaphosa’s new Cabinet has delayed its unveiling and introduced a complex negotiation process. The outcome of these talks will shape the structure and functionality of South Africa’s government of national unity.

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