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Home / D-Day for SA…as bumbling ANC faces stern test

D-Day for SA…as bumbling ANC faces stern test

2024-05-29  Paheja Siririka

D-Day for SA…as bumbling ANC faces stern test

South Africans head to the polls today to cast their ballots in watershed elections which could see the ruling African National Congress dip below 50% of the vote amidst widespread anger over unstable electricity supply, joblessness and corruption, 30 years after Nelson Mandela led it into power.

Opinion polls suggested the governing ANC could lose its parliamentary majority for the first time since the end of apartheid in 1994.

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa asserted in a televised address on Sunday evening that no government can justly claim authority, unless it is based on the will of all the people.

He expects that free, fair and credible elections will be held in conditions of peace and stability. “Over the last few months, many different parties and candidates have vigorously and enthusiastically campaigned for votes. While the contestation has been robust and has, at times, become heated, campaigning has been peaceful and free of intimidation,” he stated.

Ramaphosa said when his administration took office in 2019, the country stood at a turning point.

“We had endured a decade of corruption and state capture, of weak economic growth, and the erosion of our public institutions. Today, we have put that era behind us. We have placed South Africa on a new trajectory of recovery, and laid a strong foundation for future growth,” he added.

He said: “In tackling crime and corruption, we have introduced several initiatives and measures to reposition our criminal justice system. We have faced many challenges along the way, which have tested our resilience and our resolve. Yet, in each instance, we have confronted these challenges together. We have remained united. We have worked in partnership and solidarity.”

Ramaphosa indicated that through the presence of local and international observers, that country’s elections conform not only to local laws, but also to internationally-accepted standards of freeness and fairness.

The Popular Democratic Movement’s Maximalliant Katjimune said this election is significant since the advent of democracy in 1994 because, for the first time since being in government, the ANC is expected to dip below 50% (compared with 57.5% in 2019), and fail to attain a majority to elect a president without votes from another party. 

“This means that South Africa could have a coalition government at the national level as well as in several provinces like Gauteng, Kwazulu Natal and the Western Cape, which are all for the taking at this point,” he reasoned.

Katjimune said: “It is clear that there is a lot of frustration and hope lost by millions of South Africans in the ANC government due to factors specifically related to poverty, unemployment and inequality, coupled with the persistent load-shedding, water-shedding and corruption, which was a regular fixture during Ramaphosa’s tenure. This is why the ANC might dip under 50%.”

He predicts that the Democratic Alliance (DA) is likely to retain the official opposition title, with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the newly-established uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party coming in at third and fourth, respectively. 

“The IFP, FF+, Patriotic Alliance and ActionSA will also feature in parliament. There are new entrants such as BOSA and Rize Mzansi, and they might get one or two seats in the National Assembly,” added the lawmaker.

He said what is interesting is that even if the ANC garners less than 50% of the vote, the party will remain in government because the opposition is too ideologically fragmented to form one grand coalition which will push the ANC out of power. 

“The only question that remains is which party or parties will the ANC choose to form a coalition government with, and that will be interesting to see. We pray and hope for a peaceful election in South Africa, as our neighbouring country. There is a saying that if South Africa coughs, Namibia catches the flu. So, a peaceful election in South Africa will be a welcome relief for Namibia in particular and Southern Africa in general,” he indicated.

South African high commissioner to Namibia  Thenjiwe Ethel Mtintso told New Era yesterday that back home, she is looking forward to peaceful and harmonious elections.

“I am looking forward to a peaceful election process with no quarrels or arguments or differences. Just a peaceful process from all perspectives. My wish is also for people to vote for a government that would have the interest of the people,” she stated.

Mtintso was disappointed with the voter turnout in Windhoek, adding that out of more than 700 South Africans who registered, about 340 came to cast their ballots.

The diplomat is equally looking for to the Namibian elections in November, saying that out of the two governments, she hopes the interests of the people will be prioritised and their needs will be met.

“I hope the two countries will continue to work together closely as pan-Africans and be exemplary in the region and the continent at large. This is how it should be for the betterment of a united Africa,” said Mtintso.

The Landless People’s Movement’s Duminga Ndala concurred with Katjimune that a lot of South Africans have been disenfranchised by the ruling party, and the chance of the support might have decreased.

“The majority of South Africans have been disenfranchised by the ANC for the past 30 years, and they have failed to deal with the issue of unemployment, inequality and the increased levels of corruption within the government,” she stated.

She said although the ANC is a liberation movement, there is going to be a shift in the political dynamics.

“The ANC has created a political base in spheres of government and all political spheres, but there's a high of having to partition government,” stated Ndala.

She was confident that EFF is going to increase its voters and parliamentary seats, even though they are not offering anything new.

“They have managed to grow their base within the middle class, even if they have nothing new to offer. There is a high possibility of the DA reducing their seats in parliament and at the provincial level. Things are bound to be more challenging with the emergence of the MK party as well. But overall, there is a high possibility of the ANC not getting the 50%+,” she added.Admire Mare, associate professor at the University of Johannesburg (UJ), agreed with Katjimune.

 “These elections might open up the floodgates for coalition politics, which is a trend the rest of the region needs to begin to embrace if we are dealing with polarised opposition politics and winner-takes-all politics. Although the ANC is the clear favourite, getting over 50% is highly complicated. The rise of MK, BOSA, Arise and other traditional parties like DA and EFF means that the slice of the cake is going to be shared amongst many contestants”, he said.

Nicole Beardsworth, political researcher at the University of the Witwatersrand, sees the ANC getting “a bit of a bump” on the day, confounding the worst predictions - especially with Ramaphosa’s introduction this month of popular measures such as a national health insurance law and proposed basic income grant.

-Additional reporting from Reuters

2024-05-29  Paheja Siririka

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