Leading article: Political competition in South Africa

Share
Related Topics

Nelson Mandela's appearance at an African National Congress rally in the Eastern Cape yesterday is a timely boost for the ANC leader, Jacob Zuma, in the run-up to April's general elections in South Africa. But the endorsement of the universally revered former president comes as a rare ray of light amidst the gloom enveloping Mr Zuma and his party.

The ANC leader might have been cleared of rape charges in 2006, but serious corruption charges relating to a 1998 arms deal still hang over him. Even if Mr Zuma is elected president in April, he will be expected to appear in court in August on charges of corruption, money-laundering, racketeering and tax evasion.

There is continued discord within the ANC too. The party's spokesman, Carl Niehaus, was forced to resign last week after admitting fraud. And the infighting continues between Zuma supporters and loyalist backers of Thabo Mbeki, who was ousted as president last year.

Another headache for Mr Zuma is the formation of a new Congress of the People (Cope) party, made up of ANC defectors. Cope will not win in April's election, but it might deprive the ANC of its two-thirds majority in parliament, allowing it to block changes to the constitution. Another challenger to the ANC, the Democratic Alliance, led by the tenacious mayor of Cape Town, Helen Zille, is also expected make progress in April.

For the first time since the end of Apartheid in 1994, the ANC has some serious competition at the ballot box. The political landscape after this poll is likely to be considerably more diverse than South Africans have been used to in the years since the crumbling of the Apartheid regime. And a damaging constitutional crisis could be looming if Mr Zuma's corruption trial goes ahead. But, in the immediate term, challenges to the ANC hegemony in these elections are to be welcomed.

South Africa's glaring social problems – widespread poverty, rising violent crime and an Aids epidemic – are more likely to be effectively tackled in a competitive democracy than a one-party state. However messy the process, the transformation of South African politics is necessary.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

C# asp.net Developer - West Sussex - permanent - £40k - £50k

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum + excellent benefits package: Clearwater People Solu...

SQL Report Analyst (SSRS, CA, SQL 2012)

£30000 - £38500 Per Annum + 25 days holiday, pension, subsidised restaurant: C...

Project Manager (App development, SAP, interfacing)

£50000 - £60000 Per Annum + excellent company benefits: Clearwater People Solu...

IT Project Manager (technical, applications, infrastructure)

£55000 - £60000 Per Annum + benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: IT Proj...

Day In a Page

Read Next
The number of children in relative income poverty is currently 2.3 million in the UK  

If you think jobs provide a route out of poverty, then you should talk to the working mother who can't afford a bath for her family

Javed Khan
Scientists believe the discovery could lead to new treatments for loss of memory function caused by ageing and other factors  

We need a completely new approach to caring for older people

Carol Jagger
Oscar Pistorius sentencing: The athlete's wealth and notoriety have provoked a long overdue debate on South African prisons

'They poured water on, then electrified me...'

If Oscar Pistorius is sent to jail, his experience will not be that of other inmates
James Wharton: The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

The former Guard now fighting discrimination against gay soldiers

Life after the Army has brought new battles for the LGBT activist James Wharton
Ebola in the US: Panic over the virus threatens to infect President Obama's midterms

Panic over Ebola threatens to infect the midterms

Just one person has died, yet November's elections may be affected by what Republicans call 'Obama's Katrina', says Rupert Cornwell
Premier League coaches join the RSC to swap the tricks of their trades

Darling, you were fabulous! But offside...

Premier League coaches are joining the RSC to learn acting skills, and in turn they will teach its actors to play football. Nick Clark finds out why
How to dress with authority: Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear

How to dress with authority

Kirsty Wark and Camila Batmanghelidjh discuss the changing role of fashion in women's workwear
New book on Joy Division's Ian Curtis sheds new light on the life of the late singer

New book on Ian Curtis sheds fresh light on the life of the late singer

'Joy Division were making art... Ian was for real' says author Jon Savage
Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

Sean Harris: A rare interview with British acting's secret weapon

The Bafta-winner talks Hollywood, being branded a psycho, and how Barbra Streisand is his true inspiration
Tim Minchin, interview: The musician, comedian and world's favourite ginger is on scorching form

Tim Minchin interview

For a no-holds-barred comedian who is scathing about woolly thinking and oppressive religiosity, he is surprisingly gentle in person
Boris Johnson's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Boris's boozing won't win the puritan vote

Many of us Brits still disapprove of conspicuous consumption – it's the way we were raised, says DJ Taylor
Ash frontman Tim Wheeler reveals how he came to terms with his father's dementia

Tim Wheeler: Alzheimer's, memories and my dad

Wheeler's dad suffered from Alzheimer's for three years. When he died, there was only one way the Ash frontman knew how to respond: with a heartfelt solo album
Hugh Bonneville & Peter James: 'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'

How We Met: Hugh Bonneville & Peter James

'Peter loves his classic cars; I've always pootled along fine with a Mini Metro. I think I lack his panache'
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's heavenly crab dishes don't need hours of preparation

Bill Granger's heavenly crab recipes

Scared off by the strain of shelling a crab? Let a fishmonger do the hard work so you can focus on getting the flavours right
Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

Radamel Falcao: How faith and love drive the Colombian to glory

After a remarkable conversion from reckless defender to prolific striker, Monaco's ace says he wants to make his loan deal at Old Trafford permanent
Terry Venables: Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England

Terry Venables column

Premier League managers must not be allowed to dictate who plays and who does not play for England
The Inside Word: Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past

Michael Calvin's Inside Word

Brendan Rodgers looks to the future while Roy Hodgson is ghost of seasons past