Historic Elections in South Africa: ANC that toppled apartheid regime loses majority


South Africa (SA), one of the continent’s leading countries with a population of 70 million, held parliamentary elections last week. In 1994, the African National Congress (ANC), the liberation organization that overthrew the racist white regime under the leadership of Nelson Mandela, turned into a political party and ruled the country for 30 years, winning all elections in successive elections. The much-anticipated earthquake finally struck, and this time the ANC was able to garner only 40 percent of the vote (a loss of 17 percent), but retained its position as the largest party. Faced with the reality of a coalition government for the first time, will GA domestic politics be able to pass the test of democracy? Or will it run towards crisis and instability as a result of maximalist demands, ideological dogmas and vicious political negotiations?

Africa’s country with a backbone

It is generally accepted that South Africa is the state on the continent that stands the tallest, the most backbone against the former colonial powers and the big capitalist countries that impose their own order on the world. Let’s not go too deep; the GA, hand in hand with Algeria, maintains the strongest opposition to Israel on the continent. It does not even make Israel an observer in the African Union. At the end of last year, it filed a lawsuit against Israel in the International Court of Justice for genocide, proving that it has not deviated from its honorable line of not bowing to the West.

Success on the outside and a ball of problems on the inside

Leaving aside the principled foreign policy orientation, the domestic situation is bleak. The vortex of corruption is so deep and deep-rooted that it is no exaggeration to say that nothing has changed under President Cyril Ramaphosa, who came to power promising to eradicate this grave tradition. The second biggest problem is unemployment: one third of working age people are unemployed, and the unemployment rate among young people is even worse. The other major problem is life safety, public disorder is at its peak; law enforcement agencies are unable to prevent murders, robberies and rapes. Last year 25,000 people were killed, one of the highest rates in the world. Interestingly, it is blacks, not whites, who suffer from violence. These three problems are interconnected and structural, and can only be solved with long-term plans, programs and measures.

While we need to get rid of obsolete thermal power plants…

The problems of GA citizens are not limited to these; the country has been suffering from power cuts (up to 10 hours a day) for years, the running water is dependent on coincidences, and let’s not forget the high cost of living. The postponement of green energy investments for fear of increasing unemployment did not resonate with the electorate, while electricity generation based on decrepit coal-fired power plants in disrepair should be abandoned and renewable energy should be introduced. Disappointed by the widespread negativity I have summarized above, black voters punished the ANC at the ballot box. The slap of the loyal citizen who said that the ANC is my second “god” exploded in the face of the Cyril Ramaphosa administration this time.

Will a Government of National Unity be formed?

What do we see when we look at the vote rates of other parties? The main opposition party DA (Democratic Alliance), known as the party of whites, increased its vote rate from 22 to 23 percent. The problem with this center-right party, which continues to govern the Western Cape province where Cape Town is located and is well respected in business circles, is that it cannot appeal to the black majority. This time it is rumored that it could form a coalition government with the ANC. If such a “Government of National Unity” can be formed, with mutual concessions, the country would benefit and move up in the league of democracy.

The curse of Jacob Zuma

Two parties appealing to black voters garnered the rest of the votes. In KwaZulu-Natal province, the constituency of 82-year-old former president Jacob Zuma, the party he recently founded, MK (Spear of the Nation), achieved the most striking success (15 percent). Although this result for Jacob Zuma, who ruled the country between 2009 and 2018 and had to appear before the court for various corruption cases he was involved in, thus lowering the reputation of the whole country and ultimately being banned from participating in the elections by court order, is a success for him and his party, it should not be considered as such for GA. This temporary success, achieved thanks to his fellow countrymen/compatriots and through primitive tribal solidarity, cannot be explained by anything other than a backward political understanding.

MK : Spear of the Nation: Is racism black?

Since Jacob Zuma hates the current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, who removed him from power in 2019, authorized investigations, brought him before a judge, convicted him and banned him, it seems unlikely that his party, MK, will go into coalition with the ANC. I believe that it is in the best interest of the country that the disgraced old politician, who has never accepted the accusations, whose name has become “Teflon”, who is the first thing that comes to mind when corruption is mentioned, and his newly formed party disappear from the political scene in the short term by being sidelined.

“Kill the Boer”: Julius Malema’s favorite song

The other party, which garnered around 10 percent of the vote, is the radical left-wing party called “Economic Freedom Fighters” (EFF), founded by Julius Malema, known as the “provocateur” or “red phenomenon”. The founder of the party, Julius Malema, made a name for himself when he was the head of the ANC’s youth wing, became the party’s rebel child, was eventually expelled from the ANC (2012) and founded his own party. He is very popular with young people and students. He is the number one enemy of the main center-right-leaning opposition, the Democratic Alliance, because he advocates the nationalization of mines and the return of white-owned land to the landless without compensation. Would a coalition government between the ANC and the EFF be possible? It is not a far-fetched scenario that Julius Malema, whom Elon Musk said would “commit genocide against whites if elected”, would show “revolutionary flexibility”, put his party’s extreme demands on the fridge and reach an agreement with the ANC on minimum commons.

The fate of the ANC awaits the MPLA (Angola)

The combined vote share of the ANC, MK and the EFF in May 2024 is equal to the ANC’s vote share in the 2010s. The fact that those who broke away from the ANC did not turn to the white party (DA) but to alternative black parties proves that the main opposition (DA) needs a change of strategy to increase its appeal. I recall that in my annual analyses I have emphasized that the ANC’s defeat is a disaster that has been “coming” for the last two years. Let us take this opportunity to remind that a similar fate awaits the MPLA, Angola’s historic founding party.

Will the Government of National Unity stop the decline of the ANC?

The 400-seat GA parliament, which is expected to convene two weeks after the announcement of the final election results, should/is expected to elect a new president in June. The ANC, having lost its majority, has a tough job, and Cyril Ramaphosa, the man responsible for the defeat, has an even tougher job, perhaps he will resign. Nelson Mandela’s legendary party is still on the ropes. Cleansing the party of corruption is an absolute necessity and a matter of urgency. If it forms an alliance with the DA, which is popular with business circles, it seems realistic and possible to recover the economy, reduce unemployment and overcome the problems in basic services. If the result is achieved, why should this alliance offend black voters? The 20-year decline of the historic party may end with the formation of a “Government of National Unity”.


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