South Africa is set to vote for The African National Congress party’s Jacob Zuma in his bid for re-election, even if they don’t like him. The ANC is said to be leading in the polls despite the widespread disapproval of president Jacob Zuma, amid ongoing complaints of corruption and inequality in the country.
South Africa, this year, celebrates 20 years of democratic progress following the revolution, which ended apartheid, and put into power Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress party. It is also the year the ruling ANC is poised to win yet another round of elections, making this the fifth projected presidential election victory for the ANC in the post-apartheid state. While tens of thousands rejoiced over the ANC’s success in a packed out FNB stadium, critics of the governing party point to corruption, collusion, and censorship perpetrated by the widely popular political party as an unspoken but highly visible matter in the country.
South Africa’s president, Jacob Zuma, has become the face of this outrage, as his multi-million dollar home has become a symbol of the growing inequality in the country. His personal Xanadu is settled amongst one of South Africa’s poorest regions, Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal. It is said that over 246m rand (£13.7m) of taxpayers’ money went into the construction of the president’s private estate, while over 40 percent of the 114,416 people who live in the area are unemployed, 7,000 have no access to plumbing, and a mere 10,000 homes have working electricity.
One resident says the community there is unlikely to support Zuma in the upcoming election.
“We don’t have houses,” says Ngonyama, a 46-year-old man living Nkandla. Ngonyama lost his home to a fire back in 2009 and currently lives in a shack without running water. “We can’t even begin to explain the reasoning behind the expenditure of such an amount of money for one man.”
South Africa remains one of the world’s most unequal societies, with an “unofficial” job rate of one in three. Dirt villages and tribes dot the surrounding areas of Johannesberg, one of the richest capitals in Africa, and millions have seen little to no change in their standard of living, while critics allege that politicians and business executives make-off with millions in taxpayer money.
A beleaguered public took to vocalizing their discontent with president Zuma at Nelson Mandela’s memorial service, when he was booed on stage.
Despite the overwhelming discontent with president Zuma, the ANC doesn’t seem to be tripped up on their road to victory in the coming election. The latest poll suggests that the ANC will receive 63 percent of the vote, about the same margin of victory the party won by in the last election five years ago. Jacob Zuma is almost guaranteed re-election, even if most South Africans don’t like him.
The packed out FNB stadium housed over 95,000 jeering and excited ANC supporters, some of which overflowed into the parking lot and surrounding areas, waving flags and donning the ANC’s yellow trademark attire.
Political opponents of the ANC accuse the party of holding a virtual monopoly over the government, and through the fog of populist admiration, have abused state funds and exacerbated some of South Africa’s most dire issues like inequality and corruption.
A Spokesman for the Democratic Alliance, one of ANC’s larger opposition parties, says they face an “onslaught” from the ANC, and the party has employed practices similar to that alleged to be perpetrated by Zimbabwe’s Robert Mugabe.
While most in South Africa would say its a far reach to compare the ANC’s Jacob Zuma with the “ruthless tyranny” of Mugabe, there is a cause for concern in the post-apartheid state that corrupt officials are taking advantage of the overwhelming loyalty to the party.
The ANC has maintained a steady rule over South Africa since Nelson Mandela’s election in 1994, marking 20 years of continuous rule in the country.