In his latest posting for the New Statesmen, Tony Leon – former leader of South Africa’s Democratic Alliance – talks about the fallout from Madiba’s death on the rainbow nation.
Tony argues that, “the passing of Mandela [represented] a turning point of sorts for a country that held its first democratic election 20 years ago and sought to build the foundations of a non-racial democracy after three centuries of exclusion and apartheid.”
Mounting criticism of Jacob Zuma, the current president with multiple scandals on his watch, shows that there is a deep unhappiness both at the top and on the ground in South Africa. Tony notes that tensions were exposed when the unity of the ANC (African National Congress) shattered days after Mandela’s death, with the National Union of Metalworkers (Numsa) announcing it was disaffiliating, followed by thousands of “service delivery protests” by people angry at their lack of water, electricity or adequate sewerage facilities.
Despite this, Tony adds, the ANC’s majority seems unassailable. For black South Africans, who make up over 80 per cent of the electorate, “the ANC remains a totem of liberation – albeit a fraying one.” Therefore, key questions for the upcoming election in May is not whether the ANC will lose power, but if it will achieve less than 60 per cent of the vote, and how far left it will move?
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