Mon. Jun 10th, 2024

On paper, South Africa’s election this week should present a golden opportunity for the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and its leader John Steenhuisen.
The African National Congress (ANC) – the party of Nelson Mandela in power for the last 30 years – has little to boast about. The economy has barely grown in the last decade. The jobless rate is among the world’s highest. Infrastructure is crumbling.

The DA, the country’s second biggest party, can point to an objectively better track record in Western Cape, its stronghold and the sole province not controlled by the ANC.
Yet, if pre-election polling is accurate, its support has hardly budged since it won roughly a fifth of votes in the last general election in 2019.

Despite campaign missteps and the DA’s struggles to broaden its support, however, Steenhuisen could find himself in a pivotal position after the May 29 vote in which the ANC is expected to lose its parliamentary majority for the first time.
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While it’s been seen improving recently, some polls have put ANC support as low as 40%, an embarrassing beating if it happens that would make a coalition with small parties difficult.
And though Steenhuisen, 48, has vowed that the ANC must go, he has not excluded a post-election deal if it keeps the Marxist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and former president Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) out of government. The EFF promises to nationalise industries and seize white-owned land.
He’s a white, Zulu-speaking, 32-year old leader of a majority black South African area who is gay.

“I’m not ruling out anything depending on what the election results are going forward,” he said in an interview with Reuters in March.

The pro-business DA has long struggled to shake off its image as a party of South Africa’s privileged white minority and appeal to Black voters, a cause that has not been helped by a succession of defections by Black DA lawmakers.
Steenhuisen, 48, who is white, became leader in 2019 after his Black predecessor Mmusi Maimane resigned, accusing some within the party of undermining his efforts to court Black voters.

By Joy

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