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

TEXT SIZE - +
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

Multimedia Anti-Keystone XL Protests Continue

Demonstrators are worried about pipeline's effect on climate change, their traditional way of life, health and safety More

Thailand's Political Power Struggle Continues

Court gave Prime Minister Yingluck Shinawatra until May 2 to prepare her defense over abuse of power charges but uncertainty remains over election timing More

Malaysia Plane Search Tests Limits of Ocean Mapping Technology

Expert tells VOA existing equipment’s maximum operating depth is around 6 kilometers as operation continues on ocean bed for any trace of MH370 More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Messagei
X
Penelope Poulou
April 22, 2014 5:53 PM
Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pet Kangaroo Helps Spread Environmental Message

Children’s author Julia Heckathorn travels the world to learn about different ecosystems and endangered animals. She pours her knowledge into children’s books, hoping the next generation will right the environmental wrongs of our times. As in many children's books, the main character in Heckathorn's stories is an animal. Unlike those other characters, though, this one is real - a kangaroo, that lives in the author’s backyard. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Pro-Russian Separatists Plan 'Federalization Referendum' in Eastern Ukraine

Pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine say they plan to move forward next month with a referendum vote for greater autonomy, despite the Geneva agreement reached with Russia, the U.S. and Ukraine to end the political conflict. VOA's Brian Padden reports from the city of Donetsk in Eastern Ukraine.
Video

Video Pope Francis Hopes Dual Canonizations Will Reconcile Church

On April 27, two popes - John the XXIII and John Paul II - will be made saints in a ceremony at St. Peter’s Square. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky says the dual canonization is part of the current pope’s program to reconcile liberals and conservatives in the Roman Catholic Church.
Video

Video In Capturing Nature's Majesty, Film Makes Case for Its Survival

French filmmaker Luc Jacquet won worldwide acclaim for his 2005 Academy Award-winning documentary "March of the Penguins". Now Jacquet is back with a new film that takes movie-goers deep into the heart of a tropical rainforest - not only to celebrate its grandeur, but to make the case for its survival. VOA's Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Boston Marathon Bittersweet for Many Runners

Monday's running of the Boston Marathon was bittersweet for many of the 36,000 participants as they finished the run that was interrupted by a double bombing last year. Many gathered along the route paid respect to the four people killed as a result of two bombings near the finish line. VOA's Carolyn Presutti returned to Boston this year to follow two runners, forever changed because of the crimes.
Video

Video International Students Learn Film Production in World's Movie Capital

Hollywood - which is part of Los Angeles - is the movie capital of the world, and many aspiring filmmakers go there in hopes of breaking into the movie business. Mike O'Sullivan reports that regional universities are also a magnet for students who hope to become producers or directors.
Video

Video Pacific Rim Trade Deal Proves Elusive

With the U.S.-led war in Iraq ended and American military involvement in Afghanistan winding down, President Barack Obama has sought to pivot the country's foreign policy focus towards Asia. One aspect of that pivot is the negotiation of a free-trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations. But as Obama leaves this week on a trip to four Asian countries he has found it very difficult to complete the trade pact. VOA's Ken Bredemeier has more from Washington.
Video

Video Autistic Adults Face Housing, Job Challenges

Many parents of children with disabilities fear for the future of their adult child. It can be difficult to find services to help adults with disabilities - physical, mental or emotional - find work or live on their own. The mother of an autistic boy set up a foundation to advocate for the estimated 1.2 million American adults with autism, a developmental disorder that causes communication difficulties and often social difficulties. VOA's Faiza Elmasry reports.
AppleAndroid