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The East African : May 12th 2014
28 Victo≥ious Zuma pa≥ty pledges ‘≥adical’ change The EastAfrican OUTLOOK MAY 10-16,2014 apartheid era — have so many agonised so much. In the bad old days you knew The South African ele N BY MONDLI MAKHANYA Special Correspondent ever before in South Africa’s democratic era — and the what you stood for. You were either for apartheid or against it. If you were white and loved apartheid, you voted for the National Party, the Conservative Party, the Herstigte Nasionale Party or any variations of right-wing formations on the menu. It just depended on how attached you were to your white superiority and the degree to which you despised or hated blacks. If you were white and liberal An ANC supporter dances during a campaign rally in Johannesburg. ANC pledged to radically boost black economic power after winning the election. Picture: AFP By A SPECIAL CORRESPONDENT AFP SOUTH AFRICA’S ruling African National Congress (ANC) pledged to “radically” boost black economic power as counting of the final votes on Friday showed the party headed for a resounding election victory. With fewer than two per cent of voting districts still counting by midday Friday, the ANC had garnered a thumping 62.2 per cent of the popular vote, spelling a parliamentary majority big enough to hand embattled President Jacob Zuma a second five-year term. But it would still fall short of the two-thirds majority needed to amend the constitution and will see its winning margin reduced for a second consecutive election, down from 66 per cent at the last poll. The main opposition party, the centrist Democratic Alliance, made gains boosted by a strong urban turnout. Its share of the vote rose to 22.2 per cent, up from 17 per cent at the last election in 2009, according to the incomplete results. Julius Malema’s populist Econom- ic Freedom Fighters was in third place with 6.2 per cent of the vote, less than a year after the party was formed. It garnered more than one million votes. Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba told the press the ANC will use its fresh electoral mandate to “radically” boost black business. “The fact of the matter is black South Africans continue to feel a sense of social injustice in terms of economic ownership patterns as well as the ownership of the land,” said the ANC number three, who is tipped to head the party one day. “We need to implement programmes that are going radically to change that.” Mr Gigaba admitted ANC policies that forced existing white-owned businesses take on a proportion of black shareholders had created problems. “We want a programme that cre- ates a real legacy in terms of building industry,” the 42-year-old said. Both DA and EFF support was bolstered by a series of corruption scan- dals surrounding Zuma and frustration at rampant poverty and poor public services. But voters appeared to put the sto- ried party before the sullied president because of a lack of alternatives. “There’s a strong critique of the ANC, but in terms of available other options, there is a lack of trust in other parties,” said Cherrell Africa, head of politics at the University of the Western Cape. The DA will hold onto power in the Western Cape Province, the only one of the nine provinces where the ANC was beaten into second place, but is widely seen as a party of whites and to be struggling to win black votes. “Race is, of course, always impor- tant. Our society is structured racially, so race is important but I don’t think it’s race-based voting as such,” said Africa. “Voters just can’t see themselves voting for the DA, they can’t trust the DA.” Social grants An analyst at the South African Institute of International Affairs, Moeletsi Mbeki, said government social grants to pensioners, poor housewives and the unemployed — particularly in the rural areas — helped the ANC maintain its support. “So, for them, whether the ANC is corrupt or not, they see it as the party that delivers subsidies and welfare. “And the ANC is always threaten- ing them that if they vote for the DA they will lose their social welfare grants,” said Mr Mbeki. A record 25 million voters regis- tered for the elections, with the electoral commission giving a provisional turnout figure of 73.26 per cent. The African Union observer mis- sion congratulated the country on “free, fair, transparent and credible” polls. The ballot was marred by isolated incidents of violence, including the killing of one ANC member at a polling station in KwaZulu-Natal Province. Pansy Tlakula, chairperson of the Independent Election Commission, said a number of complaints were being investigated, but would not affect the polls’ credibility. you were likely to vote for the Progressive Federal Party or any of its previous incarnations. But if you were white and loathed being associated with “the system” in any way you joined the anti-apartheid forces and stayed away from what was then considered formal political politics. In the 1980s, if you were In- dian or coloured you had an enviable menu selection among the powerless clowns who inhabited the House of Delegates and the House of Representatives. Most people who belonged to these “population groups” — as they were called then — had seen through the sham and wanted no part in it. They played their politics in the resistance space, joining mass democratic movement (MDM) or black consciousness (BC) formations. If you were African, you could back the Bantustan parties or those plying their trade in the puppet township councils. But you would most likely be found in the MDM, BC or Africanist formations. Africanist formations Come 1994 and South African politics changed forever. Those who had been involved in, or backed, the MDM and Africanist formations voted accordingly. White voters chose between the Democratic Party and the National Party and most trusted FW de Klerk above the somnolent Zach de Beer. Only BC supporters were left in the lurch as their party, Azapo, boycotted the first elections. The patterns remained pretty much the same in subsequent elections with the most notable shifts being the coloured and Indian communities’ drifts to the Democratic Party/Alliance from the 1999 elections onwards. Tony Leon’s brand of muscu- lar opposition ensured that the DA also became the home of the white voter, regardless of the level of liberalism or conservatism. It was the umbrella for minorities who believed they needed to be shielded from the torrential downpour of majority domination. In 2009, the picture began to change. Jacob Zuma’s elec- tion as ANC leader in 2007 and the unceremonious ousting of Thabo Mbeki from the presidency spawned the Congress of the People (Cope). Cope’s entry into electoral politics in 2009 gave traditional ANC voters pause for thought. Here was a party led and populated by ANC veterans and activists. It had the same ideology and worshipped the same heroes. Moreso, many could not identify with the rawness and populism of Zuma’s new ANC. Cope offered a comfortable al- ternative. More than one million of them voted for Cope and they were joined by supporters of other parties who were excited by Cope’s offer of a new beginning. Most ANC supporters and those of other parties remained loyal. ANC supporters covered Zuma’s face with their fingers as they put their cross next to it on the ballot paper. The 2014 elections have been very different. Zuma has disappointed those ANC supporters who were once prepared to give him the benefit of the doubt. Voters queue to vote at Danville near Pretoria. Picture: AFP His litany of scandals a have left them wonderi possible to separate t from its leader, seeing a ruptible ways have see every level of governme Having given him fi grace, could they live w consciences if they gave mandate to drag the cou ther down the drain? On the right of the spectrum, the DA is bes historical conundrum. H it grow black support TWO NARRATIVES The election on Wednesday presented two basic narratives: The ANC insists that during its tenure basic services like running water and electric power have been provided to millions, who were denied them during the long years of apartheid. Opponents of the ANC say it has fallen victim to corruption, scandal and ineptitude, unable to deliver services to meet the needs of the ordinary people iit claims to represent.
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