Aftermath of South Africa’s Municipal ElectionsDecember 19th, 2021
“It always seems impossible until it’s done,” Nelson Mandela once said. It takes faith to seek to do the impossible, but faith is what South Africans must have if we are to reverse the many issues that affect us, including corruption and poor governance writes Ela Meiring, 18-year-old, Commonwealth Correspondent from South Africa. But what is faith if it is not accompanied by work? So, we must start the process by electing better leaders.
On November 1, 2021, just 45.87 per cent of 26.2 million registered voters cast their ballots in South Africa’s municipal elections – the lowest voter turnout in the country since democratic elections started taking place in 1994.
Major parties such as the African National Congress (ANC) and Democratic Alliance (DA) saw a decline in people voting for them, while the smaller and independent parties made massive surges. It appears citizens are taking their future into their own hands.
The ANC had been ruling since Nelson Mandela was elected president of South Africa in 1994. By all accounts, the party did well. It made promises that seemed reasonable and kept them – that is until 2008 when President Jacob Zuma came into power. The ANC is nowadays synonymous with corruption and mismanagement, a party fallen from grace.
Among the many issues facing South Africa, Eskom, the state-owned electricity supplier now battles to keep the lights on due to years of gross negligence. This has affected at least 735,677 students who are writing the most important exam of their lives, the National Senior Certificate (NSC) Matric Exam.
This election, however, provided a tiny glimmer of hope to South Africans that change might come. It is the first time in 27 years that the ANC has received less than 50 per cent of the votes (46 per cent to be specific) in an election. A party needs at least 50 per cent of the electorates’ support in order to rule. Many believe the tide against the major party is a foreshadowing of what is to come in the 2024 national elections. The current president, Cyril Ramaphosa, admitted in a recent speech that the ANC is not the party it used to be and that it will improve in order to serve the people of South Africa.
But the other political parties have made vast inroads into the ANC’s former strongholds. The second-largest political party, the Democratic Alliance, has won its first municipality in the KwaZulu-Natal province, the uMngeni Local Municipality, formerly run by the ANC. Other municipalities have not elected the ANC or DA, but smaller local parties. A party that has stood out to South Africans is the new ActionSA that was founded on August 29, 2020 by former DA member Herman Mashaba. Its ideology is that of being a non-racial party that caters to everyone. There were issues concerning the party’s logo when it sought to register with the Independent Electoral Commission, so it could only contest in five municipalities. Still, for a party that has only existed for 14 months, it has shown great promise, garnering a total of 555,678 votes in its first election.
Former President Nelson Mandela had a vision for South Africa that is yet to be realised. While every citizen wants to see the country succeed and grow, it seems politicians just wish to have their pockets lined and to divide us as a nation based on the colour of our skin. Whenever something goes wrong in South Africa, the politicians blame it on Apartheid, a system of racial segregation and discrimination that was eradicated 27 years ago. They refuse to take responsibility for their mistakes and that has made it difficult for us to move forward as a country.
It is sad to see what has become of South Africa because it is an incredibly beautiful jewel. The issues we face can be solved, but it will take teamwork and grit.
Photo Credits: Shutterstock
About Ela Meiring: I’ve always loved writing, my best exam grades always came from essay writing. I also love children and want to give them the best start in life. Because of this, I am currently studying for my Bachelor degree in Foundation Phase Education at STADIO. I enjoy challenges and recently wrote an essay for the Queen’s Commonwealth Essay Competition for which I won a silver award.