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Elections in South Africa, the most uncertain in 30 years

The major parties in South Africa are launching a final round of meetings before the general elections on Wednesday, which promise to be the most disputed for 30 years, with President Cyril Ramaphosa saying on Friday that he already “feels” the sweet smell of victory.

Followed by hundreds of supporters in Soweto, the historic stronghold of the African National Congress (ANC) where he is from, the 71-year-old head of state stopped in front of the former house of the the country's first black president Nelson Mandela.

“President, don't worry, the ANC will win this election whether they like it or not,” he promised, repeating: “I can already smell the sweet aroma of victory.

Elections in South Africa, the most uncertain in 30 years

President Cyril Ramaphosa during an ANC meeting in Durban, South Africa, February 24, 2024 © AFP – RAJESH JANTILAL

Ragged by corruption and held responsible for endemic unemployment, sluggish growth and record crime, the historic party nevertheless risks experiencing an unprecedented setback. And even in the emblematic township of “the struggle” against apartheid, the weariness is palpable.

“This is the last time I will give Ramaphosa’s government a chance because we have no work, we have nothing,” warns Boniswa Dludia, a 44-year-old nurse.

Portia Mohloane, 38, unemployed for seven long years, also finds that “they have had enough time to change things, we are at the end of our rope”. But she will still vote for the ANC, as she always has.

Despite growing disenchantment, the ANC, which currently has 230 seats out of 400 (57.5%), should remain the largest party in Parliament. But he could lose his absolute majority for the first time, which would force him to forge alliances to stay in power. Because it is the newly elected Parliament which will designate the next president.

Elections in South Africa, the most uncertain in 30 years

Chris Pappas, rising star of the DA, the leading opposition party, campaigning in Durban, South Africa, May 6, 2024 © AFP – RAJESH JANTILAL

According to a latest survey by the South African think tank Social Research Foundation (SRF), the ANC went from 45.9% to 40.8% of voting intentions in one week based on 'a 60% stake.

“There are going to be “intense” negotiations after these elections “like no other,” predicts political analyst Sandile Swana.

– “Unfair” –

The Democratic Alliance (DA), leading opposition party with 25 % of voting intentions, will meet in blue on Sunday near Johannesburg. Led by John Steenhuisen, 48, the movement at the head of a coalition of around ten parties promises to “save” the country and advocates liberal reforms, such as the privatization of certain public companies and the relaxation of labor law. work.

Elections in South Africa, the most uncertain in 30 years

Portraits of Cyril Ramaphosa and Jacob Zuma © AFP – OLYMPIA DE MAISMONT, Ihsaan HAFFEJEE

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF, radical left) will meet in red on Saturday in Limpopo (north-east). The party of provocateur Julius Malema could win 10% of the votes.

But the campaign was monopolized by ex-president Jacob Zuma, 82 years old, former pillar of the historic party and sworn enemy of the phlegmatic President Ramaphosa, creating a surprise by winning between 10 and 14% of voting intentions in the polls.

Head of the list of the populist party named after the armed wing of the ANC during the fight against apartheid, Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK), Mr. Zuma was however declared ineligible ten days before the election, in due to a conviction for contempt in 2021.

His photo will however appear on the ballot papers, already printed, specified the Electoral Commission (IEC).

Elections in South Africa, the most uncertain in 30 years

MK supporters in Johannesburg, May 20, 2024 in South Africa © AFP – Marco Longari

“I will fight,” he promised in an interview with the BBC this week, denouncing an “unjust” legal decision.

The ineligibility of the charismatic “JZ” should not affect the vote in favor of MK, convinced that “people will vote massively for Jacob Zuma”.

The ex-president, forced to resign in 2018 after a series of scandals and still on trial for corruption, enjoys fervent popular support, particularly in his province of KwaZulu-Natal (east).

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116