Connect with us


Dream or mirage: Can South Africa’s white-led opposition win in 2024?



Cape Town, South Africa – On April 1, John Steenhuisen was re-elected leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA), South Africa’s largest opposition party, in a triennial congress in Midrand, just outside Johannesburg.

In his speech to 2,000 party members, he made clear the DA’s intent to wrestle power away from the governing African National Congress (ANC) in the 2024 national election and to prevent any possible alliance with another rival, the left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

“During the remaining months before next year’s election, the DA will make it our number one priority … to prevent an ANC-EFF coalition,” Steenhuisen said in his speech.

Next year’s election is seen as the most important one since the dawn of democracy and the end of apartheid in 1994. Already, there are fears among the ANC faithful that after three decades in power, the party may not garner the necessary 50 percent of votes needed to stay in power.

Africa’s most industrialized nation is struggling to recover from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and the ripple effects of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. A third of the country is unemployed and crime rates have soared, boosting the rise of xenophobic militias which blame immigrants. Rolling power cuts, or load shedding, are now routine for up to six hours daily.

Corruption scandals involving government officials have become a regular affair. Earlier this year, President Cyril Ramaphosa pardoned his predecessor Jacob Zuma who was jailed after refusing to testify about corruption and crony capitalism – which became known as state capture – during his tenure.

The ANC is also facing a pushback as its support base gradually erodes due to a changing demographic. According to data from the Electoral Commission (IEC), there are about 27 million registered voters: approximately 10 million of those are in the age groups of 18-29 and 30-39.

For voters in these age groups, the heroic status of Nelson Mandela, the iconic statesman and first president of post-apartheid era South Africa has taken a knock for his insistence on unity, not justice.

All of this has bolstered the DA to take a shot at unseating the governing party. Steenhuisen says the DA is the government-in-waiting and has a plan to clean up the country.

Still, the ANC’s deep grassroots support could make it hard to defeat. Even without any merger, Ramaphosa and the EFF’s charismatic leader Julius Malema separately pose a monumental challenge to the DA’s inroads into the rural and urban areas.

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *