No one doubts that the African National Congress (ANC) will win South Africa’s parliamentary elections on May 7, extending its political hold on the country since the end of apartheid in 1994 and the election of the ANC’s Nelson Mandela as South Africa’s first non-white president.
Twenty years later, South Africans are going to the polls for the first time following Mandela’s death late last year, and the chief opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) will be satisfied if it can make further gains, consolidating its hold on Western Cape province, where the DA’s leader Helen Zille serves as premier, appealing to voters in Northern Cape and Eastern Cape, and growing its presence in Gauteng under the leadership of rising star Mmusi Maimane, currently a member of the Johannesburg city council.
But even if the ANC wins with over 60% of the vote, the same level of support as it has generally attracted in the past three elections, South Africa’s ruling structure will enter its third consecutive decade in power exceedingly unpopular, increasingly divided and with no clear path of transition to a compelling successor to the 71-year-old Zuma (pictured above, right, with deputy ANC leader Cyril Ramaphosa).
As Zuma is term-limited as South Africa’s president (the president is elected shortly after parliamentary elections, so the ANC’s dominance will all but assuredly result in Zuma’s reelection later in May or June), he’ll enter his second term as a lame duck with nagging controversies over mismanagement and corruption.
What’s more, the ANC will elect a new leader in 2017 — meaning that, unless Zuma tries to hold onto the party leadership, the ANC will determine the individual who could lead South Africa from 2019 to 2029 within the next three-year window. Though posturing for the 2017 contest is well under way, if quietly, too few ANC leaders are talking about how to revitalize the ANC for a new generation of issues and policy challenges.
Policy and governance woes
Over the past five years, South Africa’s once-booming economy has slowed. Continue reading Even with victory assured, is the ANC’s future at risk?