News / Africa

South African Parties Debate Economy, Social Services

South Africans prepare for May 7 national and provincial electionsSouth Africans prepare for May 7 national and provincial elections
x
South Africans prepare for May 7 national and provincial elections
South Africans prepare for May 7 national and provincial elections
William Eagle
In South Africa, the campaign for legislative and provincial elections is winding down, with voters heading to the polls on Wednesday (May 7).  

Media pundits have been predicting a close race between the  African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance, particularly in Gauteng, the richest and most populous province.   

Sizwe Mchunu, the DA leader in Kwazulu-Natal province and member of parliament there, said “We will push the ANC below 50 percent in Gauteng..and also in [the province of] the Northern Cape.  [This] will allow us to enter into bilateral engagements with other political parties with a view of forming a coalition governments [in these provinces].  I have no doubt in Kwazulu-Natal [province], we are likely to emerge as the official opposition.”
 
The ANC’s national spokesperson, Jackson Mthembu, said  the voters will prove the analysts – and Mr. Mchunu - - wrong.

“The DA has no chance in hell,” he said. “We are very strong there; the ANC is going to win the province overwhelmingly.  We are also going to reduce the majority of the opposition where they govern in the Western Cape. And all statistics show that nationally, we will have an overwhelming victory.”  

Competing records

Mthembu says the ANC is happy to highlight its record, which includes government grants for over 15 million poor adults and pensions for the disabled and elderly.

​“Many people know that their lives have improved in the 20 years since the ANC took over power governing our country,” he said.
 
Many analysts say corruption scandals surrounding President Jacob Zuma's administration could erode support for the ruling ANC. (file photo)Many analysts say corruption scandals surrounding President Jacob Zuma's administration could erode support for the ruling ANC. (file photo)
x
Many analysts say corruption scandals surrounding President Jacob Zuma's administration could erode support for the ruling ANC. (file photo)
Many analysts say corruption scandals surrounding President Jacob Zuma's administration could erode support for the ruling ANC. (file photo)
“Almost 92% of the people in the country have access to water…particularly the poorest of the poor.  Many people did not have electricity;  they were not only oppressed politically,  but didn’t have services in their communities…[Today] around 86 percent of people in the country now have electricity starting from around 48 percent from when we started in 1994. “  

But Sizwe Mchunu of the DA says the Western Cape is the only province to spend up to 70 percent of its budget on improving living conditions of the poor.  And he said government’s own reports cite the Western Cape as the best of all provinces in the management of finances and of government entities.   

The ANC’s Jackson Mthembu dismissed DA claims that it is better than the ANC in delivering social services.

“They are terrible,” he said.  “They have taken the Western Cape where they govern back to apartheid days.  When you go to black townships…there are always protests there about sanitation. “

“They may have done a lot for white people,” he continued, “but when it comes to black people, there hasn’t been any improvement in terms of service delivery. "

 The DA says its track record has been publicly supported by Abahlali Basemjondolo, an influential movement defending the rights of shack dwellers in Cape Town, Durban and other cities.  They’ve endorsed the DA in the upcoming elections.  

The ANC’s Jackson Mthembu is not impressed.

“They [Abahlali Basemjondolo] are not even 100 thousand people,” he exclaimed.  “ We’re talking about 51 million people in South Africa…and support from [this movement]  to us is not an issue;  what is an issue is that the majority of people in the last election – about 11 million out of 47 million --  voted for the ANC.”

“We are very convinced that on Wednesday, we will have even bigger numbers, more than 11 million, who will be voting for [us].” 

In response, the DA says it is doing well in the Western Cape, considering that it came to power in the province only five years ago and inherited the high rate of poverty from a provincial government led by the ANC for over 10 years.  

Jobs and social support

The DA also says it does better creating jobs.   The cite figures from the firm Statistics South Africa,  which indicate the government of Western Cape created 146,000 jobs in the last year – more than double the ANC-led government in Gauteng.  The DA also says Zuma’s government only created 439,000 jobs out of a promised 500,000 over a five year term, and that 1.8 million people have joined the ranks of the unemployed since he assumed office.  
 
Democratic Alliance march and rally in Durban, South Africa, April 2014. (Photo courtesy DA)Democratic Alliance march and rally in Durban, South Africa, April 2014. (Photo courtesy DA)
x
Democratic Alliance march and rally in Durban, South Africa, April 2014. (Photo courtesy DA)
Democratic Alliance march and rally in Durban, South Africa, April 2014. (Photo courtesy DA)
Critics say that rather than creating jobs,  the ANC has continued to focus on expanding expensive social programs.
 
Hussein Solomon, a professor of political studies at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa, said  the country’s middle class pays nearly half its salaries in taxes that support these efforts.  

“Approximately 17 million South Africans receive social grants under the ANC,”  he said. “What the ANC has done for 20 years, instead of creating employment opportunities and dignity with work, [ it has] created an entitlement culture giving out social grants, old age pensions, disability grants, child grants and so forth.”

Corruption and good governance

Critics says the ANC has been poor at service delivery and economic growth.  They say official corruption and mismanagement are a big part of the problem.  The Democratic Alliance touts its record in the Western Cape and Cape Town – where provincial premier Helen Zille was also named world's number one mayor in 2008 by the think tank "City Mayors."

The party has just issued a handbook detailing how it would curb government corruption in Gauteng.  It includes limits on entertainment expenses and the price of car rentals and vehicles purchased for official purposes, bans on credit cards, and on cabinet members from doing business with the state.    

Lagging support

Some supporters of the ANC say they will vote against the party in protest over corruption and joblessness.  That includes the National Union of Metal Workers of South Africa (NUMSA), which decided not to support the ruling party in the polls.   

The ANC’s Jackson Mthembu says that while the leadership may have declined to support the ANC,  the union’s shop stewards and other members are actively campaigning.  He noted the larger federation of unions of which NUMSA is a member – the Congress of South African Trade Unions [COSATU] – is supporting the ruling party.

 
A new party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, wants to create jobs and redistribute wealth by nationalizing the mining sector.A new party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, wants to create jobs and redistribute wealth by nationalizing the mining sector.
x
A new party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, wants to create jobs and redistribute wealth by nationalizing the mining sector.
A new party, the Economic Freedom Fighters, wants to create jobs and redistribute wealth by nationalizing the mining sector.
Mthembu said the DA has also suffered multiple defections of party members and officials in Gauteng Province and most recently in Cape Town.  Mayoral committee member [Grant Pascoe] left, saying the leadership did not tolerate dissent.  The DA says some of those who left,  including Pascoe, were poor performing poorly, and were likely to be sacked.

Analyst Hussein Solomon said he’s concerned about any party that wins the elections.  He said all have made promises to the electorate that may be impossible to deliver:  including the creation of six million jobs and expanded services.    

He said the global economic slow-down has affected South Africa’s trading partners in Europe, North America and Asia.  And, as long as the international economy is weak, he said, South African government revenues from exports will not provide enough money to state coffers to provide support for more services, or reduce unemployment.  
 
Listen to report on South Africa elections
Listen to report on South Africa electionsi
|| 0:00:00
...
 
🔇
X

You May Like

As US Strikes Syria, China Sees Parallels at Home

Beijing is debating how much support to give international coalition against IS militants and trying to figure out how many Chinese nationals may have joined group overseas More

CDC: Ebola Could Infect 1.4 Million by January

US health officials say if efforts to curb the outbreak are not increased, cases will soar dramatically by early next year More

Video USAID Provides $231 Million for Girls Education in 5 Countries

US Agency for International Development partners with celebrities to call attention to importance of education for girls worldwide More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbiti
X
September 22, 2014 9:20 PM
NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video NASA’s MAVEN Probe Enters Mars Orbit

NASA’s newest Mars probe, called MAVEN, has successfully entered its designated orbit around the Red Planet. Scientists will use its sophisticated instruments to try to learn what happened to the atmosphere Mars had a few billion years ago. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video For West Ukraine City, Conflict Far Away Yet Near

The western Ukrainian city of Lviv prides itself on being both physically and culturally close to Western Europe. The Russian-backed separatists in the eastern part of the country are 1,200 kilometers away, and seemingly even farther away in their world view. Still, as VOA’s Al Pessin reports, the war is having an impact in Lviv.
Video

Video Saving Global Fish Stocks Starts in the Kitchen

With an estimated 90 percent of the world’s larger fish populations having already vanished, a growing number of people in the seafood industry are embracing the concept of sustainable fishing and farming practices. One American marine biologist turned restaurateur in Thailand is spreading the word among fellow chefs and customers. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Bangkok.
Video

Video Chinese Admiral Key in China’s Promotion of Sea Links

China’s President last week wrapped up landmark visits to India, Sri Lanka and Maldives, part of a broader campaign to promote a new “Maritime Silk Road” in Asia. The Chinese government’s promotion efforts rely heavily on the country’s best-known sailor, a 15th century eunuch named Zheng He. VOA's Bill Ide reports from the sailor’s hometown in Yunnan on the effort to promote China’s future by recalling its past.
Video

Video Experts Fear Ebola Outbreak ‘Beyond Our Capability to Contain’

Each day brings with it new warnings about the deadly Ebola outbreak already blamed for killing more than 2,600 people across West Africa. And while countries and international organizations like the United Nations are starting to come through on promises of help for those most affected, the unprecedented speed with which the virus has spread is raising questions about the international response. VOA's Jeff Seldin has more from Washington.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid