The “party of Mandela”, the African National Congress, could experience their worst election results since South Africa’s 1994 introduction to democracy.
South Africa has a black majority, but 22 years after the end of apartheid, it seems race will not guarantee the ANC votes.
While the ANC still has a national lead, it is trailing the Democratic Alliance, the party’s main competitor, in Port Elizabeth, Johannesburg and Pretoria. The Democratic Alliance’s Athol Trollip, a white man, is also predicted to be the new mayor of the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality. The only major city not currently ran by the ANC, Cape Town, is predicted to stay under the control of the Democratic Alliance.
In every election since the end of apartheid, the ANC has won over 60% of the vote. Final results are expected on Friday, but Thursday showed the ANC had just 53% of the two-thirds counted, the Democratic Alliance had 28% and 7% was held by the radical Economic Freedom Fighters.
The ANC has maintained a lot of support over the years because race factors and loyalty to the Party of Mandela, despite scandals, corruption, and more. Similarly to the way the GOP is called “the party of Lincoln,” “the party of Mandela” is used to associate the party with greatness despite the corruption, scandals, and bad policies that surround them.
The problem with this rhetoric is it not only accredits the party for the legacy of individuals, but furthermore alludes the public into the belief that the values of these men from the past, are the same of the current political party.
What voters are missing is that though the name of a political party is the same, that party’s platforms, practices, values, and beliefs are constantly changing. Therefore, the loyalty these parties hope to incite by associating themselves with praised figures is undue.
Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane told 702 radio,
“We call this the change election because we felt that it was a referendum on Jacob Zuma as a national figure, but we also had a referendum about the future of South Africa.”
Change in South Africa can only come after a shift in voting habits is great enough to change the political composition of the governing powers. South Africa’s next presidential election will be held in 2019 and will hopefully be another step towards issue-based voting.