Africa’s most developed country South Africa is now having a historical time. Millions of South Africans took the polls for the country’s municipal elections on August 2. According to revealed results ruling African National Congress (ANC) led the elections but the party has lost some major municipalities. An important number of political analysts believe that the municipal elections are essential since they can serve as a strong indicator future general election results in 2019.ANC’s major opponent center Democratic Alliance defeated the ruling party in key city castles such as the industrialized city of Port Elizabeth, Pretoria, the capital and Johannesburg and other large cities. The other opposition party, Economic Freedom Fighters, has achieved a very important victory in local elections.In the election, the country hit the new record with reportedly 26.333.353 registered voters.Economy and Corruption Scandals are the Main Reasons for President Zuma’s DeclineAccording to researcher of South African Institute of International Affairs, Steven Gruzd, the election took place in a democratic atmosphere. Reminding the recently assassinated 22 politicians, many of whom were democrats, he stated to Diplomatic Observer that “people were concerned due to the possibility of a violent incident to occur. Fortunately, nothing happened and the elections went through peacefully.”When we asked him about the claims that the economic performance of President Zuma caused him to lose an important amount of votes, he said “Yes, high employment rates, the corruption scandals which Jacob Zuma was personally involved, and the economic growth rate that declined to %0 can be considered as the major factors that negatively affected President Zuma’s campaign.”
The unemployment rate in South Africa has reached to 27 percent.It’s fair to say that Zuma’s corruption scandals significantly damaged the ANC’s reputation. The legendary democracy-warrior, former leader of the nation, Nelson Mandela’s ANC is probably set to face a very humiliating result in the future since, 22 years after the end of apartheid regime, it’s the first time that the ANC’s votes stuck below %60. Comparing the results of 2011 local elections which the ANC received %62 of votes, in latest election ANC’s support has fallen to % 54.A Black Leader Who Improved a White Party’s ImageEconomy, survival grievances of the public such as unemployment could be seen as the major reasons for ANC’s decline at the first glance, but DA’s successful electoral strategies have played decisive part. As a white-dominated party, DA has succeeded to get black votes. Party used Nelson Mandela’s pictures during their political campaign. In 2015 the party selected Mmusi Maimane as new leader and so he became the first black leader of South Africa’s largest opposition party.Time Magazine’s article which was published on July 28, on Mr. Maimane, Aryn Baker, states that;“That despite his position at the head of a historically white party, his white wife, his education—he has two masters’ degres—and his elite accent, he is still Mmusi from the all-black township of Soweto, a black kid who is no stranger to struggle and who has what it takes to become the country’s next president” (
It can be said that the charismatic and young politician Mr. Maimane (36) broke the racist prejudice towards DA which caused party’s core to be constantly criticized as pro-apartheid. Mr. Maimane succeeded on bringing more than %10 black votes to the party in elections.During the political campaign the leader of main opposition party, Mr. Maimane, was saying that the President Zuma has betrayed Mandela’s legacy.
It is already hard to say that ANC will precisely lose the presidential elections which will take place in 2019. However, alongside Jacob Zuma’s corruption-tainted image which overrides his political career, the threat posed by the Mmusi Maimane led DA will stand as a big threat against Zuma’s power. Political analyst and the executive director of South African think-thank, Center of Politics and Research, Prince Mashele told the Diplomatic Observer Magazine “If ANC will not remove Jacob Zuma from his position; ANC would no longer be the ruling party”.Prince Mashele claimed that “ANC was always saying that DA is a white party but it is proven that their argument is false. The support that DA received particularly in places like Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane has proven that DA has succeeded to gain sympathy among black South Africans. But if the party had a white leader most probably they would not have received such support.”Ali Faruk İmre

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