WE hail the peaceful manner in which South Africa held its general elections on Wednesday and hope the trend will continue until the final results of the poll, widely expected to be won by the ruling Africa National Congress, are announced. South Africans voted in the country’s sixth democratic elections since the end of apartheid in 1994 and voters were expected to give President Cyril Ramaphosa and the ANC another mandate to lead the country.
The ANC is also tipped to clinch the majority of the 400 seats being contested in the National Assembly. A record 48 political parties contested in this year’s polls and the most prominent challengers to the ANC were the Democratic Alliance led by Mr Mmusi Maimane and the Economic Freedom Fighters whose leader is firebrand former ANC Youth League president, Mr Julius Malema.
The ANC went into the elections following the resignation of former President Jacob Zuma last year. Mr Zuma and fellow former President Thabo Mbeki campaigned for the ANC ahead of the polls.
In 2014, the ANC retained its majority in Parliament, although it was reduced to 249 (62%) seats, down from 264 seats out of 400 (66%), while the DA increased its lead of the opposition, taking 89 (22.23%) seats, up from 67 seats (16.75%) in the National Assembly of the 25th parliament. The EFF took 25 seats — a commendable showing in its first national elections.
In the current election, the ANC is heavily favoured to win a landslide buoyed by renewed optimism and energy injected by the rise of President Ramaphosa to the helm. The ANC President has steadied the ship and rescued the revolutionary party from the scandal-ridden years of the Zuma presidency which were plagued with scandals related to State capture.
He has constituted a Commission of Inquiry into the damaging allegations of state capture by the controversial Gupta family and promised the nation that all those who were fingered would be brought to book. President Ramaphosa is not only a refreshing change from the Zuma era but is a business savvy leader who understands the inner workings of the economy.
Since he took over, the South African economy has shown signs of recovery with the country’s relations with the international community also improving. He has also stayed true to the values and ethos of the ANC by seeking to address pressing service delivery issues affecting the majority black population.
South Africa is still among the most unequal societies in the world with the divide between the rich and poor glaring 25 years after independence. This is one of the most enduring regrets for the Rainbow Nation where whites — beneficiaries of apartheid – still control the levers of the economy while blacks wallow in poverty in the townships. The pace of economic transformation has been slow, much to the frustration of the majority of the population.
Some have turned to the EFF — a radical organisation which identifies with the poor and downtrodden and has played on their grievances to gain nationwide support in a very short time. Its leader, Mr Malema, has ramped up the rhetoric on expropriation of white-owned farms without compensation and this has resonated with the masses, most of whom are farm workers and their descendants.
South Africa therefore stands of the cusp of another massive change in the composition of the official opposition with the DA expected to get a run for its money from Mr Malema and the EFF who might emerge as the kingmakers in Parliament. The EFF is much closer to the ANC (hence majority blacks) in terms of policy and should easily overtake the DA whose origins and membership is largely white and elitist.
It doesn’t help that among its ranks, the DA has former apartheid era Afrikaner leaders who are keen to protect white privilege in a multi-racial South Africa. The outcome of the elections might therefore shock some but the overwhelming sentiment is that the ANC will romp to victory with the magnitude of the win the only thing under in dispute.
The ruling Zanu-PF party has sent a delegation to observe the elections with its sympathies solidly behind the ANC — a sister liberation movement. A massive victory for the ANC is an endorsement of the liberation struggle element in the Southern Africa Development Community and an affirmation that sister parties like Zanu-PF, Frelimo, Chama Chamapinduzi, Swapo, MPLA and the BDP in Botswana still have a role to play in the leadership of their countries.
The rise of puppet opposition parties sponsored by the region’s erstwhile colonisers is a serious threat to the existence of revolutionary parties hence the need to stand together to ward off reactionary neo-colonial forces.
We are glad that the ANC is on solid ground and headed for another landslide and historic victory which will not only give it a fresh mandate but consign racist opposition parties like the DA to the dustbins of history.