South Africa Fixes Date For General Election

A South African ruling party African National Congress (ANC) party representative overlooks Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) staff members folding ballot papers at the Brixton Recreational Centre voting station in Brixton, Johannesburg, as part of the vote for South African general elections on May 8, 2019. Michele Spatari / AFP

South Africa will vote on May 29 to elect a parliament, which will then select a president, President Cyril Ramaphosa stated Tuesday.

The vote might be historic, with opinion polls showing Ramaphosa’s ANC party receiving fewer than 50% in nationwide elections for the first time in South Africa’s three decades of democracy.

If the African National Congress (ANC), which has led South Africa since the country’s first free elections after apartheid ended in 1994, fails to gain a majority, coalition allies will be required to create government.

Complaints about South Africa’s rising violent crime rate, sluggish economy, power outages, and unemployment have been building, and Ramaphosa is facing challenges from both the right and the left.

However, the ANC party remains a formidable machine, with followers at all levels of government, and many South Africans have fond recollections of its leadership role in the anti-apartheid battle.

Ramaphosa is scheduled to unveil his party’s manifesto on Saturday at a massive gathering at a soccer stadium in Durban, the important political battlefield of KwaZulu-Natal.

“Beyond the fulfilment of our constitutional obligation, these upcoming elections are also a celebration of our democratic journey and a determination of the future that we all desire,” he said.

“I call on all South Africans to exercise their democratic right to vote and for those who will be campaigning to do so peacefully, within the full observance of the law.”

The revelation of the date has been long anticipated, and several of the ANC’s other parties have already issued their change manifestos, recognizing an opportunity.

From the right, the Liberal Democratic Alliance (DA) is attempting to bring together a coalition of smaller parties in order to reduce the ANC’s majority and shed its image of representing the white minority.

On the left, the ANC will face both Julius Malema’s radical EFF and a new group founded by former President Jacob Zuma, who is soiled by corruption accusations but remains popular in KwaZulu-Natal.

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