Socialist Worker

Anger at lack of change sets back ANC in South African elections

by Simon Basketter
Issue No. 2516

Unpopular South African president Jacob Zuma casts his vote in last weeks elections

Unpopular South African president Jacob Zuma casts his vote in last week's elections (Pic: GCIS South Africa)

South Africa's ruling party the African National Congress (ANC) has suffered its worst electoral setback since the end of apartheid. It took just over half the vote in elections last week.

High unemployment, a stagnating economy and a series of corruption scandals under president Jacob Zuma bolstered opposition.

Pretoria, the capital, was wrested from the ruling party’s control in municipal elections.

The ANC fared not much better in Johannesburg, the country’s biggest city, where it will have to join a coalition.

It suffered another humiliation in its symbolic birthplace, Nelson Mandela Bay, where the right wing opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) won enough seats to form a coalition.

The DA is trying to build an openly pro-capitalist force.

The ANC has ruled virtually unopposed since the end of white minority rule in 1994. Zuma claimed that the ANC would rule “until Jesus comes back”.

To its left the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), led by Julius Malema, built support by saying they are more radical than the ANC. The EFF promised to speed up land reform, root out corruption and take action against the multinationals and white-owned big business.

The EFF highlights the lack of basic change for ordinary people after more than 20 years of ANC rule.

The ANC’s share of the vote fell from 62 percent in 2011 to 54 percent nationally. The DA won 26.4 percent.

The EFF won 8 percent of the vote and now holds the balance in Johannesburg and Pretoria.

It was not clear whether the EFF would enter into coalitions, or who with.

Olympic protest in Rio game

Thousands of people protested in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, on Friday of last week as the 2016 Olympic Games began.

They opposed the new government of interim president Michel Temer, who took office after parliament voted to impeach centre left president Dilma Roussef.

Teacher Manuela Trindade said, “We want Temer out. It was a coup.”

They also highlighted the money spent on the games in a city whose local government has declared its acute funding problems a “public calamity”.

Several ticket holders were ejected from a women’s soccer match on Sunday for wearing T-shirts saying “Temer out” and holding signs saying “Come back democracy”.

Hunger strike hit jails in Israel

More than 80 Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails launched a mass hunger strike last week.

They are demanding an end to administrative detention, which the Israeli state uses to lock up prisoners indefinitely.

The hunger strike was originally called in solidarity with prisoner Bilal Kayid, who has been on hunger strike for more than 50 days.

‘Taskforce’ to ban BDS activists

The Israeli government has announced plans to deport and ban Boycott Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) activists from entering the state of Israel.

A statement released by the Israeli state said it would launch a “taskforce” aimed at stopping BDS activists travelling to the occupied West Bank and East Jerusalem.

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