Nelson Mandela’s party has taken a major electoral blow. Where do you leave South Africa?

Johannesburg, South Africa

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress is expected to fail to gain a majority for the first time in 30 years after this week’s national elections, marking the country’s biggest political shift since the end of apartheid.

With results in 90% of voting areas as of 5.10pm ET, support for the ANC reached 41.04%. The official opposition party, the Centrist Democratic Alliance, received 21.72% of the votes.

Behind them were two ANC splinter parties: the newly formed Umkhonto Visizwe (MK), led by Zuma, which received 13.69% of the vote, and the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party which received 9.46%, according to commission data. elections in the country. show up.

Fed up voters have dealt Nelson Mandela’s party a devastating blow at the ballot box after years of corruption scandals and economic mismanagement. As a result, the ANC will be forced to form a coalition to govern the most unequal country in the world.

Themba Hadebe/AFP

Election workers prepare to open a polling station as voters line up to cast their ballots in the general election in Alexandra, near Johannesburg, South Africa, Wednesday, May 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Themba Hadebe)

Cyril Ramaphosa, the president of South Africa and the ANC – who was Mandela’s favorite to succeed him as leader – promised a “new dawn” when he took power in 2018 from former president Jacob Zuma.

But many feel that these promises were never fulfilled and that the election results reflect a deep sense of frustration among the population about the direction the country is taking. South Africans may now face weeks of political uncertainty, as the ANC seeks to reach a coalition agreement with former rivals.

The rebuke directed at the ANC was not unexpected, and reflects widespread dissatisfaction with the ruling party. But the scale of the losses surprised some.

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“What we have seen is that voters are dissatisfied with the recent history of the ANC. In particular, what happened in the Zuma years and after that,” Melanie Verwoerd, an analyst and former ANC MP, told CNN.

Verwoerd said there had been a “general arrogance and loss of touch with the general electorate on the part of the ANC,” adding that parties such as the MK and the Foreign Front had exploited this discontent.

Zuma – a fierce critic of Ramaphosa – was forced to do so Resigning from the position of leader in 2018 He served a short stint in prison in 2021 for contempt of court. The Constitutional Court banned the 82-year-old man To run for parliament in May, but his face remained on the Knesset party ballot.

Substantive negotiations are likely to begin once the final results are announced. Political parties will have two weeks to form a coalition government before the new parliament convenes to elect the country’s president. If they fail, new elections will have to be held.

“I have no sympathy for Mr Ramaphosa and his party,” Democratic Party leader John Steenhuisen told CNN during an interview at the National Election Results Centre.

It is their inability to deal with Mr. Zuma’s contingencies and his sins of omission and commission that has led to him being a political force now that has come and wiped them out in places like KwaZulu-Natal and other parts of the country. “.

The densely populated eastern coastal province of KwaZulu-Natal, where the main city of Durban is located, has traditionally been a stronghold of the conservative Inkatha Freedom Party.

He confronted Zuma Hundreds of charges of corruption, fraud and extortion Over the years. He always denied all these scandals and became known as the “Teflon President” because few politicians could have survived the scandals he faced and survived.

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Analysts CNN spoke to, including Verwoerd, believe the most likely alliance is between the ANC and the DNC. But others are more skeptical about this outcome. They all agree that the country is in uncharted territory.

Steenhausen told CNN he wants to be part of a governing coalition and believes the alliance “can work.” Before the election, the Democratic Alliance had already formed a bloc with smaller opposition parties called the Multiparty Pact.

What he calls a “doomsday coalition” is another option on the table: an agreement between the ANC and the Democratic Front or even an MK.

But with such disdain within those breakaway parties for Ramaphosa, it may take some negotiating.

The EFF is led by former ANC youth leader Julius Malema. He embraces land confiscation without compensation and sweeping state nationalism. The Knesset Party’s manifesto carries broadly similar ideas and calls for reform of the country’s constitution to restore more powers to traditional leaders.

Not since the dawn of democracy in 1994 has South Africa’s political landscape been so clear.

But some analysts believe – despite the uncertainty – that the results of these elections could be a victory for democracy.

“Maybe this is a maturity in democracy, we need to change, and it is never good to have one party dominating a country,” Verwoerd said.

“It might be a little unstable as we go forward. But for democracy, it’s probably a good thing.”

She said the ANC’s chances had declined dramatically under the former president.

“Once the Jacob Zuma years arrived, there was bound to be a slide,” she added.

The ANC came to power in 1994 He pledges In order to “build a better life for all”, it won nearly 63% of the votes in the country’s first democratic elections.

Three decades later, corruption became rampant, and unemployment rates rose, paralyzing it BlackoutsWeak economic growth is hitting South Africans hard.

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The economy has declined over the past decade, as evidenced by the sharp decline in living standards. According to the World BankGDP per capita has fallen from its peak in 2011, making South Africans 23% poorer.

South Africa has highest unemployment rate in the world, According to the World Bank. Inequality is also the worst in the world.

Black South Africans, who make up 81% of the population, are at the sharp end of this dire situation. Unemployment and poverty remain concentrated in the black majority, largely because The failure of public educationwhile most whites in South Africa have jobs and are paid much higher wages.

Any coalition government would be a bitter pill for the ANC and Ramaphosa, who may soon be fighting for his political life.

Senior analysts believed the ANC was relying too much on his legacy.

“The ANC was campaigning after three decades of its existence. But no one was looking at the incumbent,” said TK Poe, a senior lecturer at the Wits School of Governance in Johannesburg. He believes Ramaphosa is “under pressure.”

“Historically, this is embarrassing for him. He always describes himself as the next Nelson Mandela,” Poe told CNN. But “the last thing I remember is that Nelson Mandela never lost an election,” Poe told CNN.

In this election, voters told the ANC three things: “Jobs, jobs, jobs,” Pou said.

It is highly uncertain whether a coalition government can meet the needs of the people, but one thing is clear: South Africa and the African National Congress – the former liberation movement led by Mandela that triumphed over apartheid – will never be the same.

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