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South Africa - 2019 Election

With proportional representation, South Africans vote for political parties, not for the individuals who represent them in the various legislatures. MPs and MPLs are only elected to the national and various provincial legislatures because their party decides to place them high enough on the partys candidates list. MPs and MPLs are therefore individually accountable to their parties, not to voters.

The year 2017 was bruising for the ANC, marked by factional jockeying in the run-up to its December national conference that by the slimmest of margins elected Cyril Ramaphosa as party president over Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who had been the candidate for the radical economic transformation (RET) grouping.

The ANC lost its one-party rule in 2014, ushering in a new era of coalition politics, ahead of the next general election due in 2019. The urban centers had traditionally been held by the ANC. It now looked as though no party will win a majority in those areas. The electoral landscape was increasingly divided [as in the United States}, between rural areas dominated by the AND and major urban aress governed by the DP. South Africa could face three years of political stalemate, with pro- and anti-Zuma camps wrestling for power. In 26 cities, including Johannesburg and Pretoria, the black-dominated ANC, the white-dominated Democratic Alliance, or DA, and the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters, or EFF, failed to win a majority. That meant the parties, which in the past had battered and bruised each other's images, had to find a way to cooperate.

The State Capture report, drawn up by former Public Protector (ombudmswoman) Thulisile Madonsela, described in detail how Zuma's system of corruption had spread through all echeleons of the executive and the legislature. The sacking of respected finance minister Pravin Gordhan and his equally upstanding deputy Mcebisi Jonas was the final phase in Zuma's drive for total control. The aim is to further the interests of the dubious business empire of the Gupta family, his own relations, his scores of acolytes and also to thwart the work of state prosecutors.

Zuma couldt run again in 2019. He had served his two-term limit. Party rules do not allow him to remain as ANC head either. A frontrunner to succeed him was his former wife and ex-African Union Commission chair, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma. She stepped down from the AU post in January 2017. Dlamini-Zuma had strong support in the partys largest province of Kwazulu Natal. However, the opposite camp, largely dominated by the ANCs alliance partners, wanted Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa to take the reins, which he did.

With election 2019 looming, political parties began to search for some sort of competitive advantage in what was likely to be South Africas most fractious vote to date. Electoral agreements between the DA and EFF were crumbling. The DA and EFF had nothing in common from the outset. The two parties could not be more diametrically opposite in every respect. For the DA, the EFF was merely a conduit to put their mayoral candidates in the showpiece Johannesburg and Thswane metropoles, thereby conferring on the official opposition the narrative of a growing party controlling some of the largest and most important local authorities in the country.

The demise of Zuma motivated a large portion of the ANC to call for longer-term co-operation or even re-unification with the EFF. With an ANC that has struggled to gain electoral traction, there is increased pressure to find common ground with the EFF. With an accompanying storyline of corruption, arrogance and associated racial invective broadly directed at the DA, both the EFF and ANC find common ground in belittling the DA and diminishing its growth prospects in Gauteng. But the ANC will have to defend itself against this damaging critique that a vote for the ANC is a vote for the EFF whilst the EFF will have to increasingly differentiate themselves from the ANC.

The ANC said on 05 September 2018 it was worried about going into the 2019 general elections while the South African economy faced a recession. Head of the partys economic transformation subcommittee Enoch Godongwana said globally economic recession affected electoral support. Theres demonstrable evidence across the world that says there is a correlation between economic growth and electoral support he said. Godongwana conceded that they would be concerned if the economy did not recover from a technical recession by the time the elections were called. Thats why we are calling for interventions that government must take he said adding that no party would be happy to go into elections while the economy faced recession.

Plans by South Africa's government to change the law to allow land expropriation without compensation have provoked an emotional response. Farmers, many of whom belong to the white minority, say they live in fear of losing their land; meanwhile, pro-expropriation activists say returning land to members of the traditionally marginalized black majority is only right. And some analysts say this is nothing but a political ploy as the ruling party faces a tough election in 2019.

Groups like AfriForum, which calls itself a civil rights watchdog with a focus on the white Afrikaans-speaking minority, say talk about expropriation has provoked a rise in illegal land seizures. The group is among many critics of the plan who say they fear expropriation without compensation will hurt South Africas economy and will cause the same economic spiral as was seen in neighboring Zimbabwe, after that country began a series of seizures from white farmers nearly two decades ago.

But the Black First Land First Movement says thats beside the point. The relatively new political movement, which launched in 2015 and calls itself a revolutionary, pan-Africanist socialist movement, says much of South Africas land was stolen from its original black owners by white settlers during South Africas colonial and apartheid periods. Today, the majority of South African agricultural land is owned by white farmers.

Ramaphosas ruling African National Congress had been steadily losing ground at the polls, and analysts say an emotive issue like land redistribution could attract voters, especially lower-income black voters who comprise much of the ANCs base.

As the May 8th general election approached, many South African voters said they were cynical and fed up with the long-time ruling African National Congress. As South Africa marked 25 years of ANC rule, that sentiment appeared to have also spread to the areas the ANC had long considered safe: the countryside.

South Africas ruling African National Congress maintained a lead as vote counting neared its end on 10 May 2019, with what appeared to be a decisive surge for the partys most outspoken, far-left challenger, and a surprise uptick for a fringe party that had lurked on the sidelines. this years returns have given the ANC less than 60% of the vote nationally. The far-left Economic Freedom Fighters, in its second national election, picked up slightly more than 10%. The country's Democratic Alliance is coming in just above 20%. EFF national chairperson Dali Mpofu told reporters the party was thrilled to have topped its 2014 result, in which the party won 6% of the vote in its debut election.

What no one saw coming, however, was the surge in votes won by the Afrikaans-speaking VF Plus party, whose English name is Freedom Front Plus. The partys aim is to create a homeland for the nations white Afrikaans-speaking minority. The fringe party surprised many casual observers by eclipsing its one-percent take in the 2014 election. It's actually wonderful that we're doing well, we're doing better than we expected, chairperson Anton Alberts told reporters.

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