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03/27/2024

What do South Africans anticipate for the 2024 Election?

What do South Africans anticipate for the 2024 Election?

South Africa is gearing up for its upcoming general elections scheduled for May 29, 2024, where voters will choose representatives for the National Assembly and provincial legislatures across the country. These elections, held every five years, play a crucial role in shaping the country’s political landscape and determining its future direction. President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to announce the official election date in compliance with constitutional requirements, ensuring they take place within 90 days of the current term’s expiration, set for May 21, 2024. Notably, the 2024 elections introduce several significant changes, including the implementation of online self-registration for South Africans living abroad who wish to participate in the electoral process. Additionally, independent candidates, unaffiliated with political parties, are now eligible to contest both national and provincial positions. Unlike previous elections, voters will receive three separate ballot papers. The first allows them to vote for a political party to represent them in the National Assembly, while the second is for selecting regional candidates competing for National Assembly seats. Lastly, the third ballot is for choosing candidates for the provincial legislature.[i]

Transition from Apartheid to Democratic Governance in South Africa

The dismantling of apartheid in South Africa unfolded through a series of bilateral and multi-party negotiations between 1990 and 1993. These talks culminated in the adoption of a new interim Constitution in 1993, laying the groundwork for the subsequent establishment of the Constitution of 1996. Subsequently, the country held its inaugural non-racial elections in 1994, which marked a historic victory for the African National Congress (ANC) liberation movement.[ii] However, leading up to the 1994 elections, significant challenges emerged, including the boycott of the elections by members of the Freedom Alliance. International mediation efforts, led by prominent figures such as former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger and former British Foreign Secretary Peter Carington, aimed to resolve these issues and ensure the participation of all relevant parties.[iii] Despite initial obstacles, the elections proceeded as scheduled on April 27, 1994, celebrated as Freedom Day, with the ANC emerging victorious and Nelson Mandela elected as president.[iv]

In the aftermath of the elections, efforts to foster national reconciliation and address the injustices of the past led to the establishment of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission in 1995. This tribunal, focused on restorative justice, investigated human rights violations during apartheid, contributing to the country’s healing process. The final Constitution, negotiated by the Constitutional Assembly and building upon the principles outlined in the interim Constitution, was provisionally adopted in 1996, officially coming into effect in February 1997. Subsequent elections held under its provisions further solidified the ANC’s dominance in the national legislature.[v]

Challenges facing South Africa today

Despite the progress made since the end of apartheid, South Africa continues to grapple with a range of socio-economic and political challenges. The Zondo Commission, tasked with investigating allegations of state capture and corruption, concluded its investigations in June 2022, revealing the extensive impact of corruption on the country’s economy. Efforts to combat corruption remain a key focus for political parties, with each proposing different approaches to address the issue. While the ANC emphasizes implementing measures to mitigate corruption, opposition parties such as the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) advocate for the establishment of independent anti-corruption units. Another contentious issue is the proposed amendment of Section 25 of the Constitution, which deals with land expropriation without compensation. While the ANC and the EFF support such amendments, other parties, including the DA and the Freedom Front Plus, oppose them, raising concerns about property rights and the potential impact on the economy.[vi]

South Africa ready for election, 2024

South Africa also faces challenges in areas such as energy supply, crime, and political violence. Rolling blackouts, or “load shedding,” have become increasingly frequent since 2020, highlighting the country’s energy crisis. Additionally, crime rates, particularly contact crimes such as attempted murder, have risen, posing significant security challenges. Political violence, particularly in regions like KwaZulu-Natal, remains a cause for concern, underscoring the need for effective governance and conflict resolution mechanisms. The issue of devolution of policing powers, particularly in the Western Cape, has also emerged as a contentious issue, reflecting broader debates around federalism and decentralization in South Africa. Housing shortages, cadre deployment in government positions, and foreign policy decisions are among the other challenges facing the country as it approaches the 2024 elections.[vii]

Candidates and foreign policy considerations

In the lead-up to the 2024 elections, political parties have nominated candidates to contest various positions, with President Cyril Ramaphosa seeking re-election as head of state. However, concerns have been raised about the inclusion of individuals implicated in corruption scandals on the ANC’s candidate list, highlighting the importance of accountability and transparency in the electoral process.

On the foreign policy front, South Africa’s stance on issues such as the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and its relations with other countries, including Russia and China, have come under scrutiny. Efforts to hold Israel accountable for its actions in Gaza and the West Bank, including legal action at the International Court of Justice, reflect South Africa’s commitment to human rights and international justice. However, concerns have been raised about the potential implications of these decisions on the country’s diplomatic relations and economic interests.

Conclusion

As South Africa prepares for its 2024 elections, expectations are high for meaningful progress on key issues such as corruption, crime, and economic development. The outcome of the elections will shape the country’s future trajectory and its ability to address these challenges effectively. With political parties offering different visions and approaches to governance, voters will play a crucial role in determining the direction of the country and holding elected representatives accountable for their actions. As South Africa navigates these complex issues, the world will be watching closely, recognizing the country’s significance as a regional leader and a symbol of democratic transition and resilience.

Notes


[i] South African Government Official website, 2024 elections, https://www.gov.za/blog/2024-elections, accessed 24.03.2024.

[ii]Evan S. Lieberman, 2022, Until We Have Won Our Liberty: South Africa After Apartheid. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

[iii] Ruth Masse, Ashley Gunter, 2020, Urban Geography in South Africa: Perspectives and Theory. Cham Switzerland: Springer.

[iv] Mzwandile Masina (Author), Mzilikazi wa Afrika (Interviewer) 2021, Future Realities of Coalition Governments in South Africa: Reflections on Coalition Governments in the Metros: 2016-2021. Soshanguve South Africa: SAAPAM.

[v] I. U. Ile (Editor), 2023, Omololu Fagbadebo, Democracy and Political Governance in South Africa: The African Peer Review Mechanism. Cham: Springer.

[vi] Gencoglu Halim, 2022, Güney Afrika’da Mandela’dan geriye kalan: Sefalet, suç ve sükut-u hayal, https://www.indyturk.com/node/543806/t%C3%BCrki%CC%87yeden-sesler/g%C3%BCney-afrikada-mandeladan-geriye-kalan-sefalet-su%C3%A7-ve-s%C3%BCkut-u-hayal, Independent Turkish, accessed 2024.03.23.

[vii] Bernadine Jones,2021, Elections and Tv News in South Africa: Desperately Seeking Depth. 2021. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan.

Halim Gençoğlu

Historian Halim Gençoğlu is the author of four books and several articles in African Studies. He was born in Türkiye in 1981. After his Bachelor's degree in Historical Studies, he completed his second Master’s degree in Religious Studies and Doctoral Studies in Hebrew Language and Literature at the University of Cape Town. Dr Gençoğlu continues his academic research as a postdoctoral fellow in Afro-Asian Studies and contract staff in African Studies at the University of Cape Town.

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