News / Africa

Mandela’s Death Sparks Political Debates in South Africa

Mandela’s Death Sparks Political Debates in South Africai
X
December 16, 2013 3:12 PM
The death of South African icon and former president Nelson Mandela has plunged the nation into a political debate before next year's elections. At Mandela's memorial service last week, current President Jacob Zuma was booed by the crowd - an act which some see as a potential turning point in South African politics. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from Johannesburg voters are increasingly upset with the party that Mandela brought to power, the African National Congress.
Mandela’s Death Sparks Political Debates in South Africa
Anita Powell
The death of South African icon and former president Nelson Mandela has pushed the nation into a mass political debate ahead of next year's elections.  Voters are increasingly upset with the party that Mandela brought to power, the African National Congress.

Mandela became South Africa’s first black president in 1994.  His death has now sparked a serious political debate over the nation’s future and that of the ruling African National Congress party.  
 
An indication of public sentiment came on December 10 when current president, and ANC leader, Jacob Zuma, was roundly booed by a crowd of some 60,000 people who had gathered at Soweto’s FNB Stadium to mourn Mandela.
 
While the action was widely condemned as inappropriate at such a solemn occasion, it underscores a growing frustration here in South Africa by the general population as well as some longtime ANC supporters.
 
Zuma under fire
 
One of Mandela’s closest friends, lawyer George Bizos, summed up the people’s frustrations at a separate memorial.
 
“Who do our leaders think they are kidding by telling us they are following in the footsteps of Nelson Mandela,” he said.
 
Earlier this month, South Africa's top anti-corruption official, Thuli Madonsela, issued her provisional report finding that Zuma spent some $20 million in government funds for upgrades to his personal home in rural KwaZulu-Natal province.
 
She said the expenditure far exceeded legitimate security needs and she recommended he repay the public and that parliament call him to account for ethics violations.
 
While Zuma had previously denied he used government funds, some of the public clearly sees this as more corruption in the upper echelons of the ANC.
 
A new poll conducted by the Sunday Times newspaper - and published on the day of Mandela’s burial -- found 51 percent of registered ANC voters say they want Zuma to resign.
 
Blaming the ANC
 
The ANC has dominated national politics since the end of apartheid in 1994.  South Africa may be free, but it is far from equal today, with black South Africans still on the bottom of the economic heap. Unemployment stands at a hefty 26 percent.
 
Adam Habib, vice chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, says South Africans are mad about one main issue: the economy.
 
“I think the president’s been implicated around spending 206 million rand on his private residence.  I think this is creating a real anger at the base of society.  I mean, this coupled with the fact that we’ve had economic inequalities increase every single year for the last 19 years has created, if you like, an explosive moment,” said Habib.
 
Habib noted that the ANC appears to retain popularity in rural areas, where the party has a huge presence and is widely seen as responsible for all the improvements in South African society over the past two decades.
 
However, the mood in Johannesburg was further exposed on the eve of Mandela’s Sunday funeral, when a local news station aired a panel discussion on the future of South Africa.
 
“The ANC, because of its large electoral majority, feels invincible.” said political analyst Eusebius McKaiser, drawing cheers from the audience.  “You don’t show the electorate this kind of disrespect,” he said.
 
In the audience, there were boos, tears and jeers as panelists sparred over issues of inequality, racism and economics.
 
The last word came from an unlikely source: a small, frail old white woman in a pink jacket, who sat in the front row.  Her comment was brief.
 
“South Africa,” she said, ”is a much nicer place than it was in 1994.”
 
We’ll find out if voters agree, next year.

You May Like

Video Indiana Controversy Points to Divergent Notions of Religious Freedom

Gay-marriage opponents are looking for ways to maintain their beliefs in face of changing culture, one writer says More

UNICEF Denies North Korean Measles Outbreak

Agency dismisses Russian media report after government, WHO assurances More

Turkey Seen Taking Harder Stance Against Militant Kurds

Stance comes as President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is being seen as moving closer to generals More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedomi
X
Jerome Socolovsky
April 01, 2015 1:41 AM
Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Indiana Controversy Highlights Divergent Meanings of Religious Freedom

Indiana’s state government has triggered a nationwide controversy by approving a law that critics say is aimed at allowing discrimination against gays and lesbians. The controversy stems from divergent notions of religious freedom in America. VOA's Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Nigerians Welcome Buhari's Return to Power

Crowds of jubilant Nigerians nationwide have celebrated the return to power of former military ruler Muhammadu Buhari. The retired army general won this year's presidential election with more than 2 million votes more than incumbent President Goodluck Jonathan. Buhari's supporters hope he can strengthen the country's economy and security once he takes office in late May. Zlatica Hoke has this story.
Video

Video Report: State of Black America a 'Tale of Two Nations'

The National Urban League has described this year's "State of Black America" report as a "tale of two nations." The group's annual report, released earlier this month (March), found that under an equality index African Americans had only 72% parity compared to whites in areas such as education, economics, health, social justice and civic engagement. It’s a gap that educators and students at Brooklyn’s Medgar Evers College are looking to close. VOA's Daniela Schrier reports from the school.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Gamma Ray Observatory to Open Soon in Mexico

American and Mexican scientists have completed construction of the world's largest gamma ray observatory, situated high in central Mexico’s Sierra Negra Mountain. The observatory's huge array of water-based detectors will soon start discovering secrets about black holes and supernovas. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Ebola Vaccine Trials Underway in West Africa

Ebola has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people in West Africa. Since last summer, researchers have rushed to get anti-Ebola vaccines into clinical trials. While it's too early to say that any of the potential vaccines work, some scientists say they are seeing strong results from some of the studies. VOA's Carol Pearson reports.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More