World
South African general election set for May 7
Publish Date: Feb 08, 2014
South African general election set for May 7
Cape Town : Hundreds of supporters of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), some with pictures of South Africa President Jacob Zuma on their t-shirts, march through the city to protest against poor service delivery on the part of the Democratic Alliance (DA) led local and provincial government on February 5, 2014, in Cape Town. PHOTO/AFP
  • mail
  • img
newvision

JOHANNESBURG - President Jacob Zuma on Friday announced that South Africa will hold a general election on May 7, a vote which promises to be the sternest test yet of the ruling African National Congress.

The election -- South Africa's fifth since apartheid ended in 1994 -- will be the first in which "born free" citizens can cast their ballot. They could make up as much as one fifth of the electorate.

It will also be the first election since the death of Nelson Mandela, the nation's founding father, first democratically elected president and the ANC's talismanic leader.

"These are historic elections as they take place during the 20th anniversary of our freedom from apartheid bondage," Zuma said, foreshadowing a campaign likely to lean heavily on the ANC's past glories.

Zuma said the vote would "consolidate the democracy and freedom that we worked so hard to achieve, and for which esteemed South Africans such as former president Nelson Mandela sacrificed life's comforts for."

The ANC is the strong favourite to win a majority of the 400 seats in parliament and so to return Zuma, now 71, to the presidency.

It has won each of the last four elections by a landslide, garnering more than 60 percent of the popular vote.

But the party's reputation has been sullied by pervasive inequality, joblessness, cronyism, corruption and government incompetence.

And this time round the ANC faces a phalanx of opposition parties -- from the centrist Democratic Alliance to the left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters of Julius Malema -- who have fastened on to widespread popular unease.

Struggling leadership


Zuma himself heads into the election with his own standing significantly reduced.

He has been beset by a litany of scandals, crowned by the revelation that $20 million in taxpayer money was used to refurbish his rural homestead.

That sits uneasily in a country where one in three workers is unemployed and many millions struggle to get by.

"This will be the jobs election," said Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille, who promises to implement policies that create six million new jobs, if elected.

"We will make this election a battle of ideas; even as our opponents cling to the outdated politics of racial mobilisation."

The Democratic Alliance has seen its share of the vote increase from two percent to 17 percent in the last four elections.

But with the party still struggling to shed its image as a bastion of white and mixed-race interests, its strongest challenge to the ANC may come in urban and provincial elections.

The Democratic Alliance already runs the Western Cape province, including Cape Town, and has its sights set on wresting control of Gauteng, which encompasses Johannesburg and Pretoria.

The country's most populous province and its economic heart, Gauteng has been at the centre of a wave of violent protests over the government's failure to provide jobs and basic services.

Gauteng police say they were called in to 569 protests in the last three months alone and over a fifth of demonstrations turned violent.

Across the country as many as nine protesters are alleged to have been shot dead by police in the last month.

As Zuma's announcement came Friday, residents of Hebron township near Pretoria burned tyres and threw stones at passing vehicles as part of a protest against lack of water and sanitation.

"If this government is not ready to listen to us, then violence maybe will make them listen," said resident Reuben Mohlatsi.

But with 89 days to the election, the relatively long campaign may help the ANC, whose grassroots network and political war chest are without peer in the country.

AFP

The statements, comments, or opinions expressed through the use of New Vision Online are those of their respective authors, who are solely responsible for them, and do not necessarily represent the views held by the staff and management of New Vision Online.

New Vision Online reserves the right to moderate, publish or delete a post without warning or consultation with the author.Find out why we moderate comments. For any questions please contact digital@newvision.co.ug

  • mail
  • img
blog comments powered by Disqus
Also In This Section
Drugmakers to join forces to make millions of Ebola vaccine doses
Leading drugmakers plan to work together to speed up the development of an Ebola vaccine and hope to produce millions of doses for use next year....
Rwanda imposes Ebola checks on US travellers
RWANDA has boosted travel restrictions to stem the spread of the Ebola virus, ordering travellers who have been in the United States and Spain to send daily updates...
Bashir to run for re-election
SUDANESE President Omar al-Bashir - in power since a 1989 coup - will stand for re-election in 2015 after being retained Tuesday as leader of the ruling National Congress Party...
Paralysed man walks again after breakthrough treatment
A paralysed man can walk again after receiving revolutionary treatment which one of the British scientists responsible hailed as a breakthrough "more impressive than a man walking on the Moon" - although others urged caution....
Pistorius to learn sentence for killing girlfriend
SOUTH African Paralympic athlete Oscar Pistorius today learns his sentence for shooting dead his girlfriend on Valentine's Day last year...
Warring S.Sudan leaders accept
SOUTH Sudan President Salva Kiir and his arch-rival rebel chief Riek Machar have accepted mutual responsibility for a 10-month civil war...
Was Oscar Pistorius' 5 year sentence fair and just?
Yes
No
Can't Say
follow us
subscribe to our news letter