The ANC held its final protest in Soweto

Farouk Chothia,BBC News, Soweto

EPA performers hold the ANC flag during the final African National Congress (ANC) election rally held at FNB Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, May 25, 2024EPA

Under the banner of Siyanqoba (Zulu for We Are Conquering), South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) held its final rally on Saturday as it campaigns for a term of office. record Saturday.

But far from winning, the party appears to be struggling in this election.

In addition to low-quality campaign posters and T-shirts, it failed to fill the 90,000-seat football stadium in the historic town of Soweto, where the rally was held.

Opinion polls suggest the ANC could lose its parliamentary majority for the first time since the party came to power at the end of white minority rule 30 years ago, as voters punishes the organization for power cuts, widespread government corruption, and sky-high unemployment rates.

However, the turnout of between 60,000 and 70,000 people was still impressive, with Mr Ramaphosa declaring that the party was ready for a “decisive victory” in Wednesday’s election.

Nomsa Maseko/BBC ANC supporters carry the coffinNomsa Maseko/BBC

The ANC and former leader Jacob Zuma are fighting fiercely in this election

Some ANC supporters carried coffins of opposition parties – including former President Jacob Zuma’s newly formed party, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), which roughly translates as Spear of the Nation.

“Zuma is a big traitor,” Manelisi Zulu told the BBC.

The 82-year-old former president caused a huge shock in December when he quit the ANC to lead MK’s election campaign.

Declaring that Mr Zuma’s party has no future, Mr Zulu said: “Today we celebrate the memory of this party. On May 29, we will bury it.”

Opinion polls have painted a different picture, suggesting MK could get between 8% and 13% of the national vote and keep the ANC from gaining a majority in parliament.

The party could also become the largest party in Mr. Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal, aiming to end ANC control there.

Aware of the threat, Mr. Ramaphosa fired a series of bullets at his predecessor without naming him.

“Those who could not endure the renewal of the ANC left us,” he said.

Mr Ramaphosa added that the money stolen through state capture – the term South Africans use to describe the massive corruption that occurred during Mr Zuma’s presidency – had been stolen by the agencies. Enforcement of repossession laws and “treasonous” efforts to “destroy” the tax authorities were “stopped.”

Mr Ramaphosa added: “The people have told us that the ANC is their organisation. They have told us that they love the ANC. They have told us that they will not let their organization be taken over by criminals.” criminals and counter-revolutionaries steal”.

But the president himself was rocked by a major scandal in 2022, after it emerged that he had hidden at least $580,000 in cash on a sofa on his game farm, the amount was later stolen by robbers.

A parliamentary-appointed group of legal experts recommended impeachment proceedings against Mr Ramaphosa, but the ANC used its parliamentary majority to block it.

Mr Ramaphosa denied any wrongdoing, while subsequent investigations – including by South Africa’s public protector – exonerated him. However, the police have not yet revealed the results of the investigation.

At the rally, ANC supporters rejected money laundering allegations against the president.

Thando Matidza told the BBC, as she welcomed his commitment to root out corruption in the party.

AFP Cyril Ramaphosa, president of South Africa, leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party, during the Siyanqoba rally at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, South Africa, on Saturday, May. 25, 2024AFP

President Cyril Ramaphosa is seeking a second term

A survey was released last month shows that corruption is the second biggest concern for South Africans, after blackouts that leave homes and businesses without electricity for up to 12 hours a day.

However, there have been no power cuts for almost two months now, leading skeptics to claim that the ANC had miraculously kept the lights on throughout the campaign – and that they would turn them off again after the election.

Mr Ramaphosa said that power stations were now being “better maintained” and that “excellent work” to tackle the energy crisis would be “completed” during the ANC’s next term.

Despite the many problems facing South Africa – including water shortages and crumbling roads and railways – the ANC will almost certainly remain the largest party, even if it fails to pass the 50% threshold. .

Unable to match the ANC’s support, the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) will hold its final election rally at a 20,000-seat stadium later Sunday.

An Ipsos poll released last month found it had only about 22% of the vote, while a tracking poll by the Social Research Foundation put support at earlier this month it was from 24% to 27%.

The ANC’s chances of remaining the largest party were bolstered by the fact that the opposition was heavily divided. A total of 51 opposition parties participated in the national election, vying for seats in parliament.

But the DA is also affected by division. Two of the party’s senior black leaders – Mmusi Maimane and Herman Mashaba – left the party after the 2019 election and have formed their own party to contest Wednesday’s election.

Mr Ramphosa criticized the DA at his last election rally.

Without naming names, he described the party’s pledge to scrap the national minimum wage as “outrageous”, especially “in these difficult times”.

Mr Ramaphosa added: “These are the same reactionary forces that see nothing wrong with paying slave wages to illegal migrants while depriving compliant workers of their right to a living wage. law”.

The DA’s support comes mainly from racial minorities – including Black Muslims, also known as mixed-race South Africans, and Asian communities.

Muslims make up less than 2% of the population, but because every vote matters, the ANC hopes they will vote for the party because of the strong support it has shown for the Palestinians, giving Israel went to the International Court of Justice on charges of genocide. , which Israel denies.

EPA's pro-Palestinian organizations carry Palestinian flags during the final African National Congress (ANC) election rally held at FNB Stadium in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, May 25 2024EPA

The ANC is a long-standing supporter of the Palestinian people

At the rally, Mr. Ramaphosa chanted the controversial slogan, “Free Palestine. From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free.”

“There must be an immediate ceasefire in Gaza. Hostages held in Gaza must be released. Gazans must receive all the food, fuel and other essential goods they need to survive,” he said. prevent mass starvation”.

ANC member Salome Makgoba welcomed Mr Ramaphosa’s support for the Palestinians, telling the BBC: “When we were under apartheid, the Palestinians supported us. It’s our turn to reciprocate.” that favor.”

The conflict is clearly a key mobilization tool for the ANC, but it is unlikely to determine the outcome of the election as people are more worried about domestic issues – and a verdict will be given on Wednesday on Who is best suited to take South Africa forward.

Getty Images/BBC A woman looking at her mobile phone and BBC News Africa imageGetty Images/BBC


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