Another chance

Another chance

The African National Congress’ emphatic victory in general elections indicates that the South African people continue to place their hopes on the party that led and won their struggle against apartheid 20 years ago.

While the ANC won 62 per cent of the votes, the runner-up Democratic Alliance (DA) trailed far behind with 22 per cent. The ANC can draw satisfaction from the fact that this is its fifth consecutive general election victory. However, it needs to read the writing on the wall. The party’s vote share in general elections is dropping. It is the absence of credible alternatives rather than its performance in government that is keeping it in power. This could change if alternatives emerge. The just-concluded vote indicates that some of the ANC’s most loyal supporters are turning to other parties.It is the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) that the ANC may need to watch. Its radical discourse promising economic redistribution and attacking white privileges could draw the support of poor South Africans impatient for change. The ANC government is expected to push through its National Development Plan to attract investment, invigorate growth and generate jobs. This plan is expected to face resistance from powerful trade unions, one of the ANC’s strongest pillars of support. Should the trade unions spur the formation of another party or transfer their support to the EFF, the ANC could be in serious trouble in the next general election.

Five years from now, more voters from South Africa’s ‘born-free generation’ will exercise their franchise. Unaffected directly by apartheid, these young voters will make their decisions based not on loyalty to the ANC for its role in ushering in freedom from white rule but on performance. Will the ANC measure up to their expectations?

The ANC is a party in moral decay. It must stop the spreading rot in the party. Voters have given it another chance to mend its ways and provide good governance. Its parliamentarians must see the victory as an opportunity to address problems like unemployment, crime and corruption, which they neglected in the past, rather than as another chance to fill their own pockets. The ANC government must heed the call of millions of protesting South Africans for better housing, clean water and safe streets. It must work to deliver a better life for all South Africans, and not just for the party’s ‘fat cats’ and their business cronies.

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