During the electoral campaign, South Africa is divided over sending soldiers to eastern Congo

During the electoral campaign, South Africa is divided over sending soldiers to eastern Congo

The death of two South African soldiers signaled the opposition’s offensive.

On April 27, 1994, for the first time in the country’s history, all South Africans had the right to vote. The apartheid regime is over. Huge lines formed in front of the polling stations. They will bring Nelson Mandela to the head of the rainbow nation. Frederik de Klerk’s National Party must settle for 20%. The African National Congress (ANC) won 62%.

Thirty years later, on May 29, South African voters are called to the polls for national and local legislative elections. The latest unanimous polls promise the ANC to drop below 50%, or even 45%. A figure which would confirm the trend observed during the 2021 local elections, when the ANC obtained only 46% of the votes at the national level.

South Africa: President Ramaphosa in trouble

Ramaphosa struggles to reassure

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa, candidate for a new mandate in the name of the ANC, should return, even if it means entering into an unprecedented coalition with a small party which would add votes. Three months before the election, the campaign is launched. The main adversaries did not wait to shoot their first arrows in the direction of the ruling party. President Ramaphosa and the ANC establishment wanted to respond to them this weekend with a political high mass in a Durban stadium. More than 65,000 people were gathered in the bays of the enclosure. Faced with them, Ramaphosa declined his program which aims to “restore confidence” to South Africans and create 3.5 million jobs during the next term.

A response to the main concern of voters but a speech that struggles to convince. Nobody has forgotten that in 2019, during the previous election, the same Ramaphosa had already promised to create 275,000 jobs per year. However, during his mandate, the unemployment rate rose from 29% to 31.9% in a climate of general gloom, with average growth of 0.8% since 2012. Insufficient to absorb new job seekers. The speech of the ANC candidate is in no way reassuring, he who mainly mentions the creation of jobs in public services as a demonstration of his inability to revitalize a very degraded industrial fabric, and terribly weakened by the countless power outages which punctuated the daily lives of millions of South Africans and all production tools.

South Africa: Power shortage amid corruption and sabotage

Beware of the Congolese mine

In this turbulent context, the South African president has also had to face in recent weeks a torrent of criticism over his initiative to send 2,900 soldiers to the Democratic Republic of Congo as part of a mission from the Development Community. Southern Africa (SADC in English). A criticism that was unleashed after the return of the remains of two South African soldiers killed in mid-February near Saké in North Kivu.

Julius Malema, former head of the ANC youth movement, expelled from the party for his overly radical positions, particularly against whites, became leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, located on the far left, set fire to his former companions. For him, there is no doubt, South African troops must immediately withdraw from the DRC. “Our army can’t even guard cabbages, they would be of no use on my farm. We don’t have the capacity, the ANC has destroyed the army.”

At the other end of the political spectrum, the Democratic Alliance (DA), the ANC’s main challenger, accuses President Ramaphosa of sending soldiers to their deaths. She points to budget cuts in defense and the unpreparedness of this mission. Since the return of these two bodies, several voices in the opposition have questioned the “real” motivation of Ramaphosa, who has increased the number of meetings with his Congolese counterpart in recent times. Others recall the affair of the bundles of dollars hidden in a couch on his farm called Phala Phala. An incredible affair which almost cost him the presidency… and which illustrates, according to these critics, Ramaphosa’s taste for money…

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