South African president Jacob Zuma often boasts that the African National Congress (ANC) “will rule until Jesus comes back.” Voters have consistently given it clear majorities in national, provincial, and local elections since 1994, when South Africa first made the transition to democracy. A certain level of hubris may have been inevitable.
No one is fooled. When ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe complains that the local government voting system has been unfair to the ANC, we know that what he is actually doing - he is making excuses for the fact that the ANC has lost absolute political control in crucial metropolitan municipalities. He is complaining about the rules after the game is over. If that's just being a sore loser, more sinister is his threat to change the voting system to one that enables the ANC to do better.
EITHER city voters will get the ANC leadership they want by 2019, or the party may well no longer govern the country on its own. The ANC’s huge setback does not change the reality that, for a while yet, what happens in the governing party will shape politics here.
In depth: Local elections 2016
electionsLocal elections news, views and analysis
THE days that follow an election result are fraught with rhetoric and hyperbole, as political parties battle to frame the results on their terms. One needs to step away from all of this to provide a more sober reading of the numbers and what they mean. Typically, when one does this, the final statistics cut something of a contrast with the grand claims that mark the post-election environment more generally.
What do the results mean for the 2019? The top line numbers tell a particular story in this regard.
There is a growing authoritarian impulse in South Africa, including among some student activists. Mark Wessells/Reuters
South Africa is sinking into a political, social and economic crisis. Running in parallel is a growing disillusionment about the post-apartheid project of transformation.
The death on June 25 2016 of Adam Small, the South African Black Consciousness activist, Afrikaans poet and revered academic, was not unexpected. In the twilight of his years, in his public interactions, he came across as alert but increasingly frail, often teary-eyed. In his last creative writings such as “Klawerjas” (2013) and “Maria, Moeder van God” (Mary, Mother of God, 2015) he often referenced impending death or retraced the vagaries of a life lived.
Protesters allied to South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) have been on a rampage following a fallout over the party’s choice of a mayoral candidate for the Tshwane metropole, which includes the administrative capital Pretoria. The Conversation Africa’s politics and society editor Thabo Leshilo put questions to political scientist Keith Gottschalk.
Is political violence part of the South African political landscape?
Yes. Both in terms of violent protests, as in Pretoria, as well as political assassinations.