ANC set to lose dominance in South Africa - GulfToday

ANC set to lose dominance in South Africa

Supporters of the ANC party during a rally.

Supporters of the ANC party during a rally.

The African National Congress (ANC) led by Nelson Mandela struggled for years to get the black majority to play its role in the country’s development and in politics. And it has won successive elections since 1994 when Mandela became president. It was the single dominant party. But that seems to be coming to an end in the national election due on Wednesday with the people angry with the ANC government over lack of jobs, and corruption in the ANC.

Former president Jacob Zuma had to step down, and so did parliament speaker Nosiviwe Mapisa-Nqakula. Both of them claim they are innocent. Zuma yields political influence despite not being in office. There were riots when he was arrested in July 2021 for contempt of court. Zuma has floated a party, uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK), and it is reckoned that he would take away some of the votes that would have gone to ANC.

There is clear evidence that people are angry with the government, and there is also despair. Says Zinhle Nyakenye, 31, unemployed, “I don’t see what I’m voting for. We don’t have roads (or decent) houses.” She fetches water from a stream for household use.

Polls say that ANC’s vote share could dip to 40 per cent from the 57.5 per cent it got in 2019. No one is predicting that the ANC would be thrown out of power. The other parties are small in comparison, including that of the white minority. Everyone is talking about the ANC having to negotiate a coalition government because it will lose its dominant position. And it is feared that if ANC is forced to partner with Marxist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), then it would mean trouble all round, especially with the businesses and those still dominated by the whites.

It is true that the ANC, despite failures on many fronts, has provided a stable government for the last three decades, and it was not chaos as believed by the white supremacists in the country when power was handed over to the black majority. And for a long time, South Africa under ANC has remained a strong economy in the whole of the African continent. Observers of the political situation in South Africa believe that weakening of the political power of ANC does not mean trouble for the country. Chris Vandome of Chatham House in London, the reputed international affairs think tank, says, “South Africa’s system was designed so that political parties in a very fractured country could work together. It was never designed for a dominant party to maintain absolute control.” It is felt that the legal system is strong and that it is able to haul up powerful politicians for wrongdoing. The judiciary is independent, and that is seen to be a saving grace as it were.

The unrest against the ANC government is a positive sign that the majority blacks in the country are not willing to accept that they should be grateful to ANC for getting rid of the apartheid system of government, and opening up the country for the majority of the people. In a democracy the people should be demanding things from the government, and if the party in government fails to deliver then it looks for alternatives.

There might not be a ready alternative to ANC right now, but the people want to express their dissatisfaction with the government. And that is what perhaps the ANC needs. It also opens up the space for another party with a large enough base in the black majority, carrying with them the Indian and white minorities. The Indian minority has always been with the ANC against apartheid. The white minority will also find an opportunity to seek black support. Democracy is indeed a work in progress.


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