With the national elections coming up on the 22nd, South Africa braces itself for arguably the most important elections since 1994, the first multi-racial democratic elections that created the so-called “new South Africa”. The ANC fronted by Nelson Mandela won these elections and every one since, but recent developments have put a spanner in the ANC’s works. After a conference which seen the President of South Africa recalled and the party splitting to form a new party called The Congress of the People (COPE). The new President of the ANC, who most probably will become the SA President, Jacob Zuma was again charged with corruption. These charges have been controversially dropped, and many people believe it is the ANC government pulling strings in the background. Today the ANC has definitely upped their campaigning around South Africa, incorporating new technologies, the internet and mass rallies. Some people believe this is because of the perceived threat from COPE, that has also embarked on a large election campaign and the Democratic Alliance, the official opposition has also upped their game with their posters crying out to "Stop Zuma".
Overall the feeling around South Africa is optimistic about the future, it seems that many people have put the Jacob Zuma corruption saga behind them (at least for a while) and are making themselves available to vote, even voting overseas which is allowed for the first time.
On the other hand there is many people that are not interested in voting, some saying that they are confused, possibly because of all the rhetoric being thrown around in pre-election news stories and all the roadside posters promising that “TOGETHER WE CAN DO MORE”, “VOTE TO WIN”, “THE MAN YOU CAN TRUST",' NOW IS THE TIME FOR ALL SOUTH AFRICANS”, “VOTE FOR HOPE”. They are very vague in what they say, which leaves many unable to know the difference in what a party offers.
The ruling ANC organized what they call their biggest rally ever at the famous Ellis Park on Sunday (19th). There have been rallies held all over the country with many parties trying to make inroads into areas that are known areas of other parties, sometimes causing some violence. These rallies are filled with die hard supporters of the parties singing struggle songs and dancing. Underhanded politics and mudslinging is rife as the parties and their supporters get closer to the voting day.
The feeling of the man on the street is that no matter what happens South Africa has turned a cross road and the ANC will for the first time, have a fight on its hands, which is good for democracy.
Overall, it’s an interesting time in South Africa, where democracy is still but a teenager that is growing up as the vote is starting to revolve more about what parties can do to make life better, than about race.