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

Recruitment Genius: Massage Therapist / Sports Therapist

£12000 - £24000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A opportunity has arisen for a ...

Ashdown Group: Practice Accountant - Bournemouth - £38,000

£32000 - £38000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A successful accountancy practice in...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped commission: SThree: Does earning a 6 figu...

Recruitment Genius: SEO Executive

£18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: A widow’s tale with an unexpected twist

John Rentoul
 

For all his faults, Russell Brand is utterly sincere, something politicians should emulate

Janet Street-Porter
The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss