South Africa: Will ANC survive the toughest challenge yet after 25 years apartheid
London, May 8, 2019 (AltAfrica)-The wait is finally over.Millions of South Africans cast ballots on Wednesday, voting for the first time since President Cyril Ramaphosa assumed power early last year with promises to renew both his corruption-ridden party and the beleaguered nation.
A quarter-century after the end of apartheid captured imaginations worldwide, Mr. Ramaphosa and his party, the African National Congress, faced an electorate increasingly disillusioned with the state of South Africa’s democracy.
The vote is partly a referendum on Mr. Ramaphosa, whose personal popularity has consistently polled higher than his party’s.
Polls are open from 7am to 9pm local time (05:00 GMT to 19:00 GMT) but those who are already inside the polling station before closing time will still be allowed to cast their vote.
Voters choose a party from a list on the ballot paper. The parties are then awarded seats in the 400-member National Assembly in relation to their share of the vote.
The MPs then go on to elect the president once parliament is convened
Many of the A.N.C.’s traditional supporters approve of him, polls show. But they question whether he can outflank powerful party rivals and root out the endemic corruption that has come to define the A.N.C., Nelson Mandela’s once celebrated liberation movement.
“I got trust in Cyril Ramaphosa — he’s done a lot already against corruption,” said Reckson Chauke, 57, a steelworker who said the president had renewed his lifelong faith in the A.N.C.
Anger over corruption, the faltering economy and land reform are key issues as South Africans vote in the sixth democratic national election since apartheid ended 25 years ago.
Young people queuing to vote have been speaking of their difficulties in finding jobs, with unemployment at 27%.
The African National Congress (ANC), which led the fight against apartheid, has governed the country since 1994.
But its support has eroded as large inequalities have remained.
But standing in the same voting line in Alexandra, a black township in Johannesburg, Caroline Chauke, who is not related, said she was going to vote against the A.N.C. for the first time since she began voting in 1994.
“I like Ramaphosa,” said Ms. Chauke, 48, who works as a housekeeper. “But he’s under the A.N.C. The same corrupt people in the party are in charge.” She declined to say which party she would support.
Mr. Ramaphosa made the battle against corruption a pillar of his campaign. At his party’s last rally before Election Day, he addressed widespread criticism that no party official has been held accountable for corruption since he forced Jacob Zuma, his scandal-tainted predecessor, out of office more than a year ago
Why land ownership is a big issue
Apartheid, in place from 1948 to 1994, legalised racial discrimination privileging white people, and land ownership has remained a contentious issue.
The white minority still owns disproportionately more land than the black majority. The EFF has led the charge in trying to change this.
The BBC’s Andrew Harding in Johannesburg says the party’s stance has forced the ANC to consider drastic measures to transfer more land, more quickly, into black hands, which has resulted in a pledge to conduct land expropriation without compensation.
The main opposition party, the DA, says it does not believe land reform needs to be “carried out in a way that takes from one to give to another”, and instead promises to prioritise land reform in the budget and to release unused government land.
Other election issues include discontent over poor basic services such as water, housing and electricity and anger over violent crime.
Opinion polls suggest that the ANC will get just over 50% of the vote with the DA forecast to get about 20%, reports AFP news agency.
If the poll proves to be true then this would mean a fall in the ANC’s vote share. It won 62% of the vote in 2014. (additional info@BBC/New York Times)