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

Music Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

Maths Teacher

£85 - £125 per day: Randstad Education Chester: Job Opportunity for Secondary ...

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...

Day In a Page

Read Next
“You're running away!” Nick said to me the other night as I tried to leave the hospital  

In Sickness and in Health: ‘There’s nothing I want more than to have you at home, but you’re not well’

Rebecca Armstrong
 

Daily catch-up: Ed Miliband on low pay; Alan Johnson on Betjeman; Tom Freeman on editing

John Rentoul
A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

Not That Kind of Girl:

A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

Model mother

Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

Apple still the coolest brand

Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

Scrambled eggs and LSD

Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

New leading ladies of dance fight back

How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

A shot in the dark

Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
His life, the universe and everything

His life, the universe and everything

New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
Save us from small screen superheroes

Save us from small screen superheroes

Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
Reach for the skies

Reach for the skies

From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

12 best hotel spas in the UK

Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments