When is the poll and what is at stake for the ANC?

By | March 27, 2024

South Africa is heading for a general election at the end of May, with some opinion polls suggesting the ruling African National Congress (ANC) could receive less than 50% of the vote for the first time in three decades.

Increasing criticism of the party that led the fight against apartheid at the time Nelson Mandela has reduced its support, raising the possibility of a coalition government.

When are the elections in South Africa?

On May 29, almost 28 million South African registered voters will have the opportunity to elect representatives to national and provincial parliaments.

It will be the country’s seventh democratic general election.

They have taken place every five years since 1994, when white minority rule ended and the ANC came to power.

What is at stake for the ANC and what are its policies?

The ANC, now led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, is under increasing pressure.

Stubbornly high unemployment, which reached 32% last year, persistent economic inequality, allegations of corruption and frequent power outages have reduced its popularity.

High levels of violent crime – an average of 130 rapes and 80 murders per day in the last three months of 2023 – have also eroded trust in authorities.

But the ANC says it is working to resolve these issues.

And it urges people not to throw away the gains made since the end of apartheid. The party says poverty has fallen, a greater proportion of South Africans live in decent homes and access to healthcare has improved.

The ANC has pledged to create millions more jobs over the next five years, boost investment, support the private sector and end corruption.

What do the opposition parties DA and EFF offer?

The main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) says the “country is in crisis”.

It wants to liberalize the economy, including a move toward greater privatization.

It has pledged to create two million new jobs, end power cuts and “halve the number of violent crimes”.

Party supporters during the launch event of the DA (Democratic Alliance) general election manifesto, held at the Union Buildings, Pretoria, South Africa, February 17, 2024

The public prosecutor says it can save South Africa

To tackle unemployment and inequality, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – the third largest party in parliament – ​​has radical economic solutions.

The party argues that the ANC has failed to redress the racial economic imbalances of apartheid. The country plans to redistribute land to the less fortunate.

The EFF also wants to nationalize mines, banks and other key parts of the economy, arguing that the country’s wealth would then be used to benefit the majority of the population.

What about Jacob Zuma and the MK party?

Disgruntled former president Jacob Zuma – who was ousted by Mr Ramaphosa amid corruption charges he denies and later jailed for defying a court order – has thrown his considerable political weight behind a new rival to the ANC.

Former South African President Jacob Zuma speaks during his visit to the Shekainah Healing Ministries in Philippi, where he is campaigning for a new party, uMkhonto We Sizwe, for the upcoming elections, in Cape Town, South Africa, March 10Former South African President Jacob Zuma speaks during his visit to the Shekainah Healing Ministries in Philippi, where he is campaigning for a new party, uMkhonto We Sizwe, for the upcoming elections, in Cape Town, South Africa, March 10

Ex-president Jacob Zuma is campaigning for the MK party

The uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) party, which takes its name from the former armed wing of the ANC, adds even more unpredictability to the race. It could produce a strong performance in Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal.

In a short manifesto, the country promises to transform South Africa, including the goal of creating five million jobs.

Who could be the next president of South Africa?

South Africans do not vote for a president.

Instead, they elect the 400 members of the National Assembly, who vote for a new head of state within 30 days of the general election.

EFF supporters during the launch of an Economic Freedom Fighters party manifesto in Durban, South Africa, on Saturday, February 10, 2024EFF supporters during the launch of an Economic Freedom Fighters party manifesto in Durban, South Africa, on Saturday, February 10, 2024

The EFF says greater state control of the economy will create a fairer society

As a result, there are no presidential candidates as such, but each party leader runs his national campaign and his portrait will appear on the ballot paper.

The ANCs President Ramaphosathe DA Johannes Steenhuisen and that of the EFF Julius Malema will all be prominently featured.

The leader of whichever party can win a majority in the National Assembly after the elections is expected to become the next president.

How does the election work?

The share of seats parties are allocated in the 400-member National Assembly is directly related to their share of the vote.

Independent candidates will be included for the first time in 2024.

This means that South Africans will cast three votes:

  1. National Parliament: One for the 200 seats where only the political parties are listed on the ballot paper

  2. National Parliament: One for the remaining 200 seats with a different ballot paper for each of the nine provinces, showing the parties in that region and independent candidates

  3. Provincial Assembly: One for the independent candidates or parties in the regional legislature.

How could a coalition be formed in South Africa?

The constitution does not describe how a coalition could be formed.

But assuming the ANC remains the largest party, smaller groups could informally agree to support an ANC government by vote in exchange for some concessions.

Or, at the other end of the spectrum, the ANC could enter into a formal coalition with some parties, including a written agreement outlining legislative plans and the distribution of cabinet posts.

Any other party would face the same choices.

But there is also a possibility for an opposition coalition.

In a pre-electoral agreement, a group of parties – led by the DA – signed the so-called Multi-Party Charter for South Africa. If they together obtain more than 50% of the seats, they have already agreed to form a coalition. The agreement does not include the EFF.

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