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South African opposition leader Helen Zille has not endeared herself to the majority of voters who recently handed the ruling African National Congress a landslide victory in the national polls.
Zille came under fire from her political enemies for her appointment of a predominantly white and almost completely male cabinet in the Western Cape, the province where her DA party took power from the ANC.
She retaliated by attacking President Jacob Zuma, calling him a “self-confessed womaniser with deeply sexist views, who put all his wives at risk by having unprotected sex with an HIV-positive woman”.
That referred to Zuma’s acknowledgement that he had such contact during a trial on rape charges of which he was acquitted. The row has ended any suggestion that after Zuma’s election, there might be a period of better relations between the government and opposition.
South Africa’s national elections last week have reshaped the contours of the country’s political landscape. It has almost certainly killed off the careers of many opposition leaders who have become institutions and their parties with them. It virtually obliterated the peer parties of the ANC, with their roots as liberation movements, such as the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) and the Azanian Peoples’ Organisation (Azapo). It is clear the electorate believes these parties are irrelevant, outdated and under poor leadership. The Inkatha Freedom Party, whose founder, Mangosuthu Buthelezi also professed that it has its origins in liberation movement politics has also been brought down to size.
The IFP has dominated the KwaZulu Natal province since the 1960s, but embarrassingly lost out to the ANC now. ANC President Jacob Zuma’s overt appeal to Zulu speakers in the province who have supported the IFP in the past, by arguing that is better to support him (Zuma) for the presidency, and have a Zulu-speaker in the presidency, has evidently worked. Many IFP supporters have voted for Zuma merely on the basis of ethnic affinity, rather than his record in government.
“The new President of the Republic will be a president for all, and he will work to unite the country around a programme of action that will see an improvement in the delivery of services,” Zuma said after the African National Congress won its sweeping victory.