Africa: Conflict and governance South Africa

Written by  //  June 5, 2024  //  Africa, Government & Governance  //  Comments Off on Africa: Conflict and governance South Africa

1-5 June
South Africa at a crossroads
What happens next will come down to intense horse-trading, primarily within the African National Congress itself, before an arrangement can be concluded.
The business community and President Cyril Ramaphosa’s allies favor a tie-up with the centrist Democratic Alliance that could help bolster the rand and the nation’s bonds. The DA says Ramaphosa can remain as president.
Yet for many Black South Africans who swept the ANC to power at the end of apartheid three decades ago, a linkup with the predominantly White-led DA would be inconceivable.
Times, though, have changed. The election showed that faced with rampant poverty, mass unemployment, power cuts and endemic crime and corruption, South Africans have run out of patience with the ANC.
DA leader John Steenhuisen has softened his party’s rhetoric to woo the ANC and said in an interview that his group — whose predecessor opposed apartheid — increased its share of the Black vote in the election, despite the resignation of some of its high-profile Black leaders.

Jacob Zuma Gets His Revenge on South African Party That Shunned Him
A new party led by Mr. Zuma, a former president forced out over corruption allegations, helped ensure that the African National Congress fell short of an outright majority for the first time since the end of apartheid.
(NYT) Jacob Zuma’s political career could have ended when he was forced to resign six years ago as South Africa’s president over corruption allegations.
Or it could have ended when he was criminally charged for taking bribes, or when he was indicted on rape charges, or when he went to jail for contempt of court, or when he was suspended from the African National Congress, South Africa’s long ruling governing party.
But Mr. Zuma, 82, has improbably bounced back after every threat to his political survival, and now has significant power to determine who will lead the country.
The political party that Mr. Zuma began six months ago — umKhonto weSizwe, or M.K. — finished third in last week’s national election, upending South Africa’s political landscape. The showing helped to bring about the stunning collapse of the party he once led — the African National Congress, or A.N.C., which failed to win an outright majority for the first time since the country’s democracy began in 1994.

Final results in seismic South Africa election confirm ANC has lost majority
ANC says demands that President Cyril Ramaphosa must step down is ‘no-go area’ as rival Jacob Zuma stokes fears of violence
(The Guardian) Final results from Wednesday’s seismic South Africa elections have confirmed that the African National Congress (ANC) party has lost its majority for the first time in 30 years of full democracy, firing the starting gun on unprecedented coalition talks.
The ANC, which led the fight to free South Africa from apartheid, won just 159 seats in the 400-member national assembly on a vote share of just over 40%. High unemployment, power cuts, violent crime and crumbling infrastructure have contributed to a haemorrhaging of support for the former liberation movement.
South Africa’s president urges parties to find common ground in talks after election deadlock
(AP) — President Cyril Ramaphosa called Sunday for South Africa’s political parties to overcome their differences and find “common ground” to form the first national coalition government in its young democracy.
His comments came in a speech straight after final election results were announced confirming that no party won a majority in last week’s vote. Unprecedented coalition talks were set to start to find a way forward for Africa’s most industrialized economy.
Ramaphosa’s African National Congress party had already lost its 30-year majority after more than 99% of votes were counted by Saturday and showed it couldn’t surpass 50%. The ANC received 40% of the votes in last week’s election in the final count, the largest share.
Without a majority it will need to agree on a coalition with another party or parties for the first time to co-govern and reelect Ramaphosa for a second term. South Africa’s national elections decide how many seats each party gets in Parliament and lawmakers elect the president later.
South Africa’s ANC facing coalition as election ends decades of dominance
Counting from Wednesday’s poll was almost complete on Saturday, with results from 99.87% of polling stations giving the ANC 40.19% of votes.
Ruling party loses majority for first time, on 40% of vote
South Africa enters new era of coalition politics
Voters were angry over failed economic and social policies
Zuma’s party in third threatens court challenge
Election commission ready to announce on Sunday
(Reuters) – South Africans angry at joblessness, inequality and power shortages slashed support for the African National Congress (ANC) to 40% in this week’s election, ending three decades of dominance by the party that freed the country from apartheid.
A dramatically weakened mandate for the legacy party of Nelson Mandela, down from the 57.5% it garnered in the 2019 parliamentary election, means the ANC must share power with a rival in order to keep it – an unprecedented prospect.

29-30 May
Partial count in South Africa election puts ruling ANC below 50% as country senses momentous change
South Africans have voted in an election seen as their country’s most important in 30 years. It’s a vote that could put their young democracy into unknown territory.
(AP) — Partial results in South Africa’s national election put the long-ruling African National Congress party at well below 50% of the vote as counting continued Thursday, and it could be on the brink of losing its majority for the first time since sweeping to power under Nelson Mandela at the end of apartheid in 1994.
That would be a momentous change for South Africa, where the ANC has been dominant for all 30 years of its young democracy and the only governing party many have known.
The ANC had the most votes and was well ahead in the early results, as expected. But if it fails to secure a majority, it may have to form a coalition to remain in the government — something that has never happened before in post-apartheid South Africa. Without a majority, the ANC would also need help from other parties to reelect President Cyril Ramaphosa for a second term.
South Africa releases early results from pivotal poll
(BBC) Early results have been announced from what is seen as South Africa’s most closely fought elections since the African National Congress (ANC) came to power 30 years ago.
With results from around 27% voting districts counted so far, the ANC is leading with 43%, followed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) with 25%.
The radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has about 9%, while the uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MK Party) of former President Jacob Zuma is on around 8%.
Final results are expected over the weekend.
The initial results suggest the ANC will lose its parliamentary majority for the first time since Nelson Mandela led the party to victory following the end of the racist system of apartheid in 1994.
Polls close and South Africa counts votes in election framed as its most important since apartheid
(AP) — South Africans voted Wednesday at schools, community centers, and in large white tents set up in open fields in an election seen as their country’s most important since apartheid ended 30 years ago. It could put the young democracy into unknown territory.
The election was held on one day and polls closed after 14 hours of voting at more than 23,000 stations across South Africa’s nine provinces. Counting will start but final results are not expected for days. The independent electoral commission that runs the election said they would be announced by Sunday.
South Africans vote in a pivotal election as president says he has no doubt his ANC party will win
(AP) South Africans began voting Wednesday in an election seen as their country’s most important in 30 years. At stake is the three-decade dominance of the African National Congress party, which led South Africa out of apartheid’s brutal white minority rule in 1994. With unemployment rates at 32%, inequality, and poverty and joblessness disproportionately affecting the Black majority, the party faces being unseated.

28 May
Apartheid’s Enduring Legacy Threatens ANC in South Africa’s Election
(Bloomberg) Rising frustration in South Africa’s predominantly Black townships over broken promises of equality threatens the governing party’s political majority, as the nation heads to the polls on Wednesday for the tightest election since apartheid ended in 1994.

25 May
‘We didn’t fight for this’: ANC’s grip on power in peril in South Africa election
Steve Bloomfield in Johannesburg
Thirty years after the end of apartheid, corruption is rife, crime is high and the economy is a mess. The party of Mandela admits it ‘made mistakes’. But will the people forgive them?
In most democracies, a ruling party that has been in power for 30 years and presided over such a horrendous series of interlocking crises, would be facing a long period in opposition. But the ANC is not just a political party – it’s a former liberation movement, and that makes a difference. People have a different attitude to a movement that won their freedom: for many South Africans, it’s a complicated relationship, and the decision to take their vote elsewhere is as much emotional as pragmatic.

(The Guardian) In the heart of Soweto, the birthplace of South African democracy has been burned, looted and stripped for parts.
Almost 70 years ago, in the early days of apartheid, more than 3,000 people gathered in a dusty square to draw up the Freedom Charter, demanding a series of rights and proclaiming that South Africa “belongs to all who live in it, black and white”.
When apartheid ended in 1994 and Nelson Mandela was elected president by a landslide, the charter became the foundation for the country’s optimistic new constitution. So it made sense, 50 years on, to mark its anniversary and turn this square in the Kliptown area of Soweto into a place that represented the new South Africa.
There would be shops and offices, a museum, a monument to freedom. To top it off, a new hotel opened, marketed as “the first four-star luxury hotel offering African hospitality in the heart of Soweto”. A flame of freedom was lit, surrounded by the words of the charter.
South Africa then was on the up. New homes had been built, and access to electricity and water extended across the country. While much of the country’s wealth still rested in a few white hands, a black middle class was growing and South Africa was preparing to host the football World Cup.
But if the first 15 years of democracy was a success, the same cannot be said for the last 15 years. And the impact can be seen vividly in the square where modern South Africa was born.
Poverty is rampant, unemployment is high and three years ago riots led to the burning and looting of shops. Everything that can be stolen and sold has gone, including the metal grates that covered the sewers. The hotel is still here but staff admit there are barely any guests. And in the monument where the charter lies, the flame of freedom has long since burned out.
As South Africa prepares to go to the polls on Wednesday, 30 years on from the first democratic elections, it is a nation in crisis. It’s the most unequal country in the world and among the most dangerous. The economy is stagnant, with almost zero growth in a decade and nearly half of adults are out of work.
Basic public services are falling apart. In many parts of the country there is no clean water, while rolling power cuts have become a regular feature of daily life. The government proudly points out it has been 55 days since the electricity went off, a streak that the more cynical expect to last until election day but not much longer.
And in the final week of campaigning, Johannesburg has suffered a strike by rubbish collectors, leading to piles of garbage on streets corners and strewn across pavements.
At the heart of it all is corruption. What was a minor issue under Mandela and his successor Thabo Mbeki exploded when Jacob Zuma came to power in 2009. By the time he was kicked out of office by the African National Congress (ANC) in 2018, billions was looted from the state, leaving almost every part of it bankrupt, from the national airline to the agency that ran the railways.
“The tax authority was effectively taken over by a syndicate of criminals,” says Anthony Butler, a professor of politics at the University of Cape Town. “It’s proved to be very difficult to rebuild those institutions.”
An inquiry into what became known as “state capture” concluded that “the ANC under Zuma permitted, supported and enabled corruption”, though Zuma himself denies any direct role in corruption.
After Zuma, the ANC tried to turn the page, choosing a former Mandela ally, Cyril Ramaphosa, as the new president. Despite admitting his party “made mistakes”, Ramaphosa has been unable to change the country for the better and is now haunted by the ghosts of the ANC past.
An unrepentant Zuma has formed his own party, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) – named after the former paramilitary wing of the ANC – which has peeled away support, particularly in the province of KwaZulu-Natal.
Coupled with the strength of another populist leftwing party, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) led by Julius Malema, a former ANC youth league leader, the opinion polls suggest the party of Mandela will fall to its lowest level of support since 1994, and could even slip below 50%, meaning it would have to rule as a minority government or go into coalition.

24 May
‘Unlock the door or we’ll kick it down’: why South Africa’s youngest politician is in a hurry for change
Fasiha Hassan is the same age as her country’s democracy and as election day approaches, the politician believes her party, the ANC, must evolve or die
(The Guardian) In a country that became mired in corruption under the former president Jacob Zuma, inequality has soared and a run of two months without power cuts by the state energy firm Eskom is cause for celebration.
Now a new generation of politicians, many rising from social movements, are trying to reinvigorate the ANC. Youngest of all is Fasiha Hassan, who came to prominence as a leader of #FeesMustFall, a wave of student protests over tuition costs that swept through universities in 2015.

22 May
As South Africa’s pivotal election looms, its citizens will play a key role in ensuring its credibility
Speculation that the ruling African National Congress (ANC) could lose its majority and usher in a new form of politics has garnered international attention. Through this complex transition, the country’s electoral system and civil society observers can and should be trusted.
Christopher Vandome, Senior Research Fellow, Africa Programme
(Chatham House) The results could be close. In particular, there could be marginal differences between smaller parties and independent candidates who are able to run for the first time in this election. Small margins could be the difference between getting access to political resources – and economic resources – or not. As with elections across the world, losers will look to blame the process.
On 15 May, Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamobolo announced that over 5,000 election observers had been registered. 145 out of the 160 registered organizations are domestic. For a young democracy with suspicion of outsiders ingrained in its psyche, it is important that South Africans will safeguard their own electoral process. Whatever the outcome, the international community should listen to their assessments and trust their findings.

20 May
Dyer: ANC’s domination of South African politics about to end
Thirty years after apartheid, the country’s official unemployment figure is 32 per cent.
(London Free Press) The old world is dying, and the new world struggles to be born,” wrote Italian Marxist Antonio Gramsci in 1929. “Now is the time of monsters.”
Gramsci’s remark is being liberally quoted by South African journalists ahead of the May 29 election, for the old world in which the African National Congress completely dominated the country’s politics is definitely ending. For the first time since apartheid ended, the ANC’s share of the vote will fall below 50 per cent.
Unfortunately, the decline of the party that ended white minority rule in South Africa has not led to the emergence of big new parties with big new ideas.

27 April
South Africa marks 30 years since apartheid amid growing discontent
Polls predict ANC likely to lose parliamentary majority, due to high unemployment and wealth inequality
South Africa marked 30 years since the end of apartheid and the birth of its democracy with a ceremony in the capital that included a 21-gun salute and the waving of the country’s multicoloured flag.
Any sense of celebration on the momentous anniversary was however set against a growing discontent with the current government.
As head of state, president Cyril Ramaphosa presided over the gathering in a huge white tent in the gardens of the government buildings in Pretoria.
He also spoke as the leader of the African National Congress party, which was widely credited with liberating South Africa’s black majority from the racist system of oppression that made the country a pariah for nearly half a century.
… Outside the tent where Ramaphosa spoke in front of mostly dignitaries and politicians, a group of young black South Africans born after 1994 and who support a new political party called Rise Mzansi wore T-shirts with the words “2024 is our 1994” on them. Their message was that they were looking beyond the ANC and for another change for their future in next month’s election.
“They don’t know what happened before 1994,” said Seth Mazibuko, an older supporter of Rise Mzansi and a well-known anti-apartheid activist in the 1970s.
“Let us agree that we messed up,” Mazibuko said of the past 30 years, which have left the youngsters standing behind him directly affected by the second-worst youth unemployment rate in the world behind Djibouti.


11 November
FW de Klerk issues posthumous apology for pain of apartheid
Former South African president recorded video message before death at the age of 85
South Africa’s last white president, FW de Klerk, who with Nelson Mandela oversaw the end of apartheid, has died in Cape Town aged 85, with his office issuing a prerecorded posthumous video apology for the country’s discriminatory system of white minority rule.
“I, without qualification, apologise for the pain and the hurt and the indignity and the damage that apartheid has done to black, brown and Indians in South Africa,” a gaunt De Klerk said in the recording.
He added his concern, however, over South Africa’s future, saying: “I’m deeply concerned about the undermining of many aspects of the constitution, which we perceive almost day to day.”

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