What’s next for South Africa after voters criticized the country’s ruling Party?

South Africa is headed for big change

Exactly what that change looks like and whether it will alleviate many of the hardships facing South Africans remains the million-dollar question.

The African National Congress, or ANC – which has governed with a sizable electoral majority since democracy began in South Africa in 1994 – won only about 40% of the vote in last week’s election. . The poor results mean the country is now in talks with rival parties to partner in forming a government.

“In their desperation, I wonder what choices they will make,” said Bhekindlela Cebekhulu, 40, a theater artist in Soweto.

Mr Cebekhulu, who said he voted for the ANC after standing in line for more than an hour, asked if South Africa would soon have a white president or if parties promoting socialism could take ownership of his house. Most of all, he said, he was worried about former President Jacob Zuma’s threats to change the Constitution.

The nation’s top legislative body, the National Assembly, must meet within two weeks of the official announcement of Sunday’s election results and elect a president.

African National Congress officials say they want their leader, President Cyril Ramaphosa, to stay in office for a second term. Mr. Ramaphosa’s fate probably depends on the negotiations.

South Africa seems to be going down two paths.

The election results could come as a surprise to the African National Congress and anyone involved in national governments, which must more forcefully tackle the poverty, unemployment, crime and inequality affecting the land. country – lest the country lose more support. Or, political polarization and controversy could deepen, meaning it would be virtually impossible to resolve the problem.

Hlengiwe Ndlovu, a lecturer in management at the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, said the new government should at least make “steps in the right direction”. But if there is political dysfunction, she added, the country could “fall into chaos, into violence, into a state of collapse.”

Here are the key leaders determining South Africa’s future and the impact they can make.

Cyril Ramaphosa and the African National Congress

The biggest question for Mr Ramaphosa, 71, and his party is which arrangement they prefer. All have potential risks.

They can cooperate with the Democratic Alliance. But that could isolate some of their core supporters in Black towns and rural communities because the Democratic Alliance has steadfastly opposed policies that prioritize Black people on making and ownership.

Another option is for the African National Congress to reunite with Mr. Zuma, who once led the party but helped form a new party against his old allies in this election. But bringing Zuma back into office could weaken the ANC’s stance that it is rooting out the corruption that has existed within it for years. Mr. Zuma, the sworn enemy of Mr. Ramaphosa, his former deputy, has forced to resign in 2018 because of withering corruption allegations.

The party may also turn to another former member, Julius Malema, who was Firebrand’s youth leader before. deportation he. Mr. Malema founded the Economic Freedom Fighters, an opposition party, a decade ago. Although Mr. Malema’s socialist stance is endorsed by some in the African National Congress, it could push the party in a direction it does not want to go.

There is the possibility of simply ruling as a minority government. That means the ANC will negotiate with other parties on an issue-by-issue basis. Some have also proposed forming a “national unity government” in which all parties in Parliament would be included.

Fikile Mbalula, the party’s secretary general, said on Sunday all options were open. But it won’t be forced into a bad arrangement, he said: “We’re talking, but we’re not begging.”

John Steenhuisen and the Democratic Alliance

The Democratic Alliance has been one of the ANC’s harshest critics, hurling personal insults at its members and taking the organization to court over several laws it has passed .

Led by Mr. Steenhuisen, 48, who is white, the party abandoned more diverse leadership as it lost the white conservative vote. It relies on a number of issues advocated by some on the far right – releasing a lament, without evidence, increase” in the murder of farmers and advocated for the continued use of the Afrikaans language at Stellenbosch University.

In some ways, however, a Democratic Alliance alliance with the ANC would make sense. The party won nearly 22 percent of the vote, making it the second largest party. The ANC’s current leadership generally favors a centralized economic approach similar to that of the Democratic Alliance. Big businesses will likely welcome this alliance. Analysts say this cooperation is likely to protect and strengthen state institutions. And analysts say the Democratic Alliance has a good record of functional governance in the Western Cape, the fourth largest province, and could play a role in checking government graft.

The parties may clash over policies aimed at eliminating racial disparities sustained from apartheid and over foreign policy. The Democratic Alliance firmly supports the Western allies. The African National Congress has emphasized the importance of the West but also promoted strong partnerships with countries such as China, Russia and Iran.

Tony Leon, the former leader of the Democratic Alliance who is part of the team leading coalition negotiations for the party, said its voters would overcome their reservations about the ANC if they believed there would be a more efficient government. They also want to keep Mr. Zuma and Mr. Malema’s parties out of power because of the left-wing economic policies they promote.

“I can absolutely guarantee that 80%, maybe more, of DA voters will say: ‘Let’s make a reasonable deal with the ANC’,” he said.

Such an agreement could mean reaching compromise on policies important to the ANC. One of the Democratic Alliance’s key priorities is to end “cadre deployment,” the policy of recruiting party members to key positions even when they lack professional qualifications. According to its manifesto, the Democratic Alliance has also promised to eliminate affirmative action “because it only enriches a small group of connected elites.”

Jacob Zuma and MK

Mr. Zuma’s umKhonto weSizwe party, or MK, was founded just six months ago and was the most spectacular saboteur of the election. It came third, winning nearly 15% of the national vote, the most ever for a first-time party.

MK endorsed a tough platform: Confiscate all land without compensation to bring it under state management; Abolish the current Constitution; establish a National Assembly for leaders of traditional ethnic groups; and rolling back the renewable energy transition to coal and nuclear power.

But many analysts say Mr. Zuma, 82 years old, seems less interested in policy and more interested in punishing Mr. Ramaphosa and his party. Although Mr. Zuma leads MK, he has recently was removed from his position in the National Assembly because one criminal conviction for failing to testify before a corruption inquiry – an accusation he said was politically motivated by Mr Ramaphosa’s government.

Some political analysts and rival politicians say Mr. Zuma also wants to access state power to resolve some of his legal troubles. He faces criminal corruption charges stemming from an arms deal when he was vice president about two decades ago.

MK officials have demanded Mr Ramaphosa step down as a condition for any coalition deal, a demand the African National Congress has so far resisted.

Analysts say the big concern is that if the two parties cooperate, there will essentially be a return to the factionalism and corruption that have made the ANC so ineffective in running the government.

Ebrahim Fakir, an elections analyst with the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, said voters are “looking for better performance, they are looking for better performance on current policy.” .

Julius Malema and the fighters for economic freedom

Mr. Malema has in some ways toned down his rhetoric but is no less bold in his demands. Last week, he laid out what he would demand from his coalition partners: take the land without compensation within six months; establish a state-owned bank and cancel student debt within 12 months; Free electricity and water for all welfare beneficiaries; and a partner “that is not a puppet or representative of the Western imperialist agenda.”

However, the 43-year-old leader has lost some leverage because of his party’s disappointing results at the elections. Its support has fallen about a percentage point, to about 9.5%, since the last election in 2019.

However, as a former ANC member, he had allies within the organisation. And his brand of politics attracts a faction within the party that believes the current leadership has not pushed hard enough to eliminate the economic disparities plaguing black South Africans.

While investors may have been initially shocked by the rapprochement between the ANC and the Economic Freedom Fighters because of Mr. Malema’s left-wing stance, those concerns have been dispelled, Mr. Fakir said. overblown. This alliance will not lead to the more drastic changes that Mr. Malema is seeking, Mr. Fakir said.

Instead, there could be “an enhancement of existing welfare,” he said. The parties will likely negotiate something similar to the Reconstruction and Development Program, he said. It was a public spending program adopted at the end of apartheid that was “a slightly more radical Marshall Plan,” Mr. Fakir said.


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