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Zuma sweeps in

April 23, 2009

It was South Africa’s most exciting election campaign for a long time, enlivened by the split in the African National Congress and the personality of Jacob Zuma, the man who is now pretty much assured of becoming president despite the best efforts of plenty of people within his party as well as the opposition.

So far, the results don’t look too different from the pre-poll forecasts. An ANC victory was never in doubt and the battle was as much as anything about whether the party could keep its two-thirds majority in parliament, which lets it change the constitution and further entrench its power. That was still in doubt after early figures.

There was not much good news for the Congress of the People (COPE), formed by loyalists of ousted former President Thabo Mbeki. With only about eight percent of the vote so far, the question may be as much whether it survives as whether it can supplant the Democratic Alliance as the main opposition.

The DA seemed to have done fairly well with its “Stop Zuma” campaign, at least in its Western Cape stronghold, but there was no sign of it making inroads among the black majority.

Whatever losses the ANC had made to COPE and the DA, it seemed to have made some of them up in KwaZulu-Natal, Zuma’s Zulu heartland, where it battered the once locally dominant Inkatha Freedom Party.

It certainly looks as though Zuma’s support was not affected by the fact the corruption charges against him were dismissed on a technicality rather than after a trial.

How well placed will he now be to deliver the change that many South Africans say they want on fighting crime, poverty, corruption and AIDS? Will COPE survive or might its supporters start to drift back to the ANC? Will the opposition ever really be able to challenge the ANC?

Are you celebrating or disappointed? We want to hear from you.


I am frightened of the future where a populist strong man with much to hide is elected by a population more driven by loyalty thatn morality and ethics. The slippery slope begins………..

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive

The ANC will certainly win this one, probably with a majority, however hollow promises will again not be delivered. In 1994/1999 the ANC promised a reduction on poverty and more housing for the underprivileged (amongst countless other assurances) – These were not delivered and poverty has become significantly worse since 1994. Couple this with poor and ever-worsening border control, social support, infrastructure, racism and job opportunities – one finds that the rational equilibrium of achievement is sliding further and further away from reality.

With the recession enviably about to slam South Africa’s economy into dire straits, one wonders how a man without a formal qualification and who chants ‘bring me my machine gun’ is possibly going to manage the sort of composure and intellectual fortitude required to weather the storm.

This is going to be a disaster. Good luck SA, I am praying for you all.

Posted by Chris | Report as abusive

Though controversial figure, Mr. Zuma will try to keep the investments flowing in South Africa to starve off the unemployment. As it is suggested that the famous finance minister will retain his department, Zuma knows that he has got a country, which need continuity if the economy has to recover and he will rely upon those who know best to deliver. Failure to deliver will just ignite opposition againt him by the same people who voted for him; populism does not mean lack of maturity and wisdom. South Africa should be proud that democracy is settling contrary to other african countries where competition is not on the menu when it comes to the election. President Mbeki was ousted without driving the army behind him as it is the case in DR Congo, Zimbabwe, Angola, Rwanda,Uganda, Madagascar…


Again, let me say this loudly, NONE of what happened here is SURPRISING!!!. The reason Reuters seems surprised is because they have been dishonest. They have been trying to lie that people dont like Zuma, that they have grown tired of the ANC and that the DA is now the darling in South Africa.

If you notice at every election since 1994, Reuters have always predicted a ‘reduced’ majority for ANC and an increase in support for the DA. You know why? Because Reuters like all others in the western press sympathize with white South Africans only and get their views only from this minority. The reason for this is that most of these journalists are themselves white.

Most of us Africans were dismayed as we watched the western press spew what was essentially white South Africa propaganda.

Posted by John Brown | Report as abusive

Oh dear Phillipe , populism means exactly what you suggest it does not mean. It is an emotional selection and disregards maturity and wisdom. Will Zuma ultimately leave as peacefully as Mbeki, after changes are made to the constitution and the instuments of democracy are filled with die hard supporters, yielding those institutions vulnerable ? There are many parallels to suggest even a DRC scenario

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive

Good luck South Africa! At least one country in Africa knows how to stage a free and fair election with almost a 75% turn-out. Instead of carping about Zuma and the ANC, let’s celebrate a new,peaceful era for RSA with a capable opposition and a well-run economy.


Both Paul and Lovell have a point – let’s be grateful SA’s demnocracy works as smoothly as it does, even if the ANC’s origins as an autocratic, heirarchical organisation keep showing through. What else should anyone expect from an organisation founded to overthrow a nasty, tough and oppressive system? It was never going to produce a bunch of gentle idealists focused on nurturing a pluralist social democracy. That’s something a country evolves in that big learning process called the school of hard knocks. It doesn’t come from the barrel of a gun or from Communist agitators, at least we haven’t seen it yet on this planet.

The ANC never did encourage dissent or criticism when it was a liberation organisation: it crushed such “problems”, often ruthlessly, even torturing and sometimes killing its own members “when necessary”, notably in its so-called armed wing, Umkhonto we Sizwe (“Spear of the Nation”) – one of the world’s most useless fighing forces ever seen. It is an unpalatable truth, but it happened – it can’t just un-happen.

So its myopic attitude to dissent, which we see all the time now, is understandable. Its change from liberation organisation to political party involved a lot of crashing of gears, so to speak: hardliners were pitted against liberalisers. And the internal struggle goes on … as it must in all political parties. But many in the ANC also reckon their long years in the wilderness, with the self-imposed poverty and hardship, “deserved” to be rewarded when they got into power. It was payback time.

And so it has proved to be – often to the detriment of the millions in shanty towns, or the majority of the country who are not Xhosa, who got almost every key job going, large or small. (For those not familiar with SA demography: Zulus are the largest ethnic grouping; Xhosa next; Tswanas third; and several small groupings making up minorities – of which ‘coloureds’ meaning mixed race, whites and Asians are the best known). But Xhosa’s, like Mandela, ran the show – so Xhosas brushed other ‘tribes’ aside. So much for non-racial politics. No comment is needed.

So the ANC was never perfect: but who said it was? Its mixed constituency of communists, trade unionists, socialists and academics never claimed to be anything they weren’t, such as cosy suburban liberals, like me. But it remains a fact that as SA’s ruling party, they have a lot to learn, and a lot to teach, about free speech, dissent, and yes, non-racial politics. One day even the Xhosa stranglehold on the party may be loosened, perhaps even in Jacob Zuma’s time, since he’s a Zulu. But I’m not holding my breath. It has been what it is for many long decades, and change comes slowly everywhere in the world.

Posted by Diehard democrat | Report as abusive

The DA is now a strong opposition party,and will keep the ANC honest and their aim to make South Africa a Black ruled country.So thank you Helen Zille democracy will for sure bde retained for all South Africans,not only for Black Africans and Afrikaners as such,but for all the others that Zuma ignored in his quest for votes,the so called Coloureds ,Indians and other ethnic people that Zuma treated with contempt when he canvassed for votes


CRIME AND CORRUPTION INCREASED UNDER THE PREVIOUS ANC GOVERNMENT,but this will not happen now as we have a DA Opposition that will keep the ANC honest to fulfill their election promises that, and many other policies that are on paper,will have to be kept


I think Zuma will be a great leader if we all give him the chance and One day we will be very surprised to see how great a leader he will be.
South Africa need such a leader that will unite the nation especially in a time like these with economy,crime, poverty, industries and commerce are key issue at hand. South Africa will need Black, White and all races together. I am from Ghana and leaves in Canada, I can assure all South Africans to be united and serve their country deligently without holding back.

Posted by Albert O | Report as abusive

Albert o , realy, such a comment from a Ghanaan living in Canada who clearly is not familiar with Africa’s history nor the causes of its current difficulties.

Posted by Paul | Report as abusive

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