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Historic Vote in South Africa: ANC Faces Unprecedented Challenge

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The South African election may see the end of the ANC's three-decade dominance. Issues like corruption, unemployment, and economic inequality challenge its stronghold as 27.6 million people vote.

South Africa's Historic Election: A Test for ANC's Three-Decade Dominance

South Africa finds itself at a crossroads as it celebrates the 30th anniversary of its first democratic election, which brought Nelson Mandela and his African National Congress (ANC) party to power. The election underway on May 29th is being viewed as the most critical vote since the end of apartheid, with the ANC's long-standing dominance in jeopardy.

Currently, around 27.6 million South Africans are eligible to vote. Polling stations opened early in the morning and will remain open until 9 p.m., with final results expected by the weekend. The stakes are high as the ANC could lose its absolute majority in parliament for the first time in three decades. Although recent polls suggest the ANC retains between 40% and 45% of the vote, this is a stark decline from its previous stronghold.

Challenges Facing the ANC: Corruption, Unemployment, and Social Divides

The ANC, struggling with internal scandals and accusations of failing to deliver on promises, is facing backlash. High unemployment rates, pervasive corruption, and economic inequality have driven many to lose faith in the party. The country’s economic stability has not been helped by constant power outages and escalating crime rates. Despite significant socioeconomic advances such as building 3.4 million housing units and providing 90% of homes with electricity, more than 18.2 million South Africans continue to live in extreme poverty.

Former president Jacob Zuma, who has been excluded from this election due to a prison sentence, remains a controversial figure with significant following. His imprisonment in 2021 led to one of the worst waves of violence in South African history, raising concerns about the stability of the country during these elections.

A Divided Electorate: Young People and the Legacy of Mandela

Loyalty to the ANC remains strong among older voters who experienced the apartheid regime and credit the ANC for their liberation. However, the younger population, who did not live through apartheid, are more critical of the ANC’s performance. Youth unemployment stands at 45.5%, and many young voters are turning away from the ANC.

Mandela's legacy continues to be a double-edged sword for the ANC. While many revere Mandela for his role in ending apartheid and his vision for a unified South Africa, others criticize him for failing to secure adequate reparations for the black majority from the white minority who benefited during apartheid. Nonetheless, Mandela's impact on South Africa’s international reputation remains profound, with the country playing vital roles in BRICS and the African Union.

  • The ANC’s future hinges not only on addressing corruption and improving public services but also on gaining the trust of younger voters. This demographic, making up a significant portion of the electorate, could determine whether the ANC will have to enter a coalition government for the first time.
  • Despite its domestic struggles, South Africa continues to maintain a prominent role on the global stage. The ANC's foreign policy has emphasized non-alignment and strong relations with both its BRICS allies and Western nations. The country’s recent actions, such as accusing Israel of violating the Genocide Convention, showcase its ongoing commitment to solidarity and self-determination movements globally.
  • The robustness of South Africa's socioeconomic advancements since the end of apartheid cannot be entirely overshadowed by its current challenges. Programs initiated by successive ANC presidents have lifted millions out of poverty, despite the accusations of mismanagement and corruption.
  • As the election results start to trickle in, South Africa and the world wait to see whether the ANC will maintain its grip on power or step into a new era of coalition politics. The outcome will not only shape the country's governance but also influence its continued role as a pivotal player in international affairs.
Clam Reports
Refs: | Le Figaro | EL PAÍS | Merkur |

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