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

Cambodia Seeks Official UN Maps for Vietnam Border

Notice of request comes as 2 countries open border talks Tuesday after a clash last month More

From South Africa to Vietnam, Cyclists Deliver Message Against Rhino Horns

Appalled by poaching they saw firsthand, sisters embark on tour to raise awareness in countries where rhino horn products are in demand More

Uber Wants Johannesburg Police Protection

Request follows recent protests outside ride-hailing service's Johannesburg office 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.
New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbsi
|| 0:00:00
...    
🔇
X
Maia Pujara
July 07, 2015 10:01 PM
A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video New Implant Could Help Restore Movement to Paralyzed Limbs

A half-million people suffer spinal cord injuries each year because of car accidents, serious falls and diseases, according to the World Health Organization. Researchers are now working on a soft but strong spinal cord implant that could one day restore movement in paralyzed individuals. VOA’s Maia Pujara reports.
Video

Video Getting it Done Beyond a Nuclear Deal

If a nuclear deal is reached between Iran and world powers in Vienna, it will be a highly technical road map to be used to monitor nuclear activity in Iran for years to come to ensure Tehran does not make nuclear weapons. Equally as complicated will be dismantling international sanctions that were originally intended to be ironclad. VOA’s Heather Murdock talks to experts about the key challenges any deal will present.
Video

Video Rice Farmers Frustrated As Drought Grips Thailand

A severe drought in Thailand is limiting the growing season of the country’s important rice crop. Farmers are blaming the government for not doing more to protect a key export. Steve Sandford reports from Chiang Mai, Thailand.
Video

Video Making Music, Fleeing Bombs: New Film on Sudan’s Internal Refugees

In 2012, Sudanese filmmaker Hajooj Kuka went to make a documentary among civil war refugees in Sudan’s Blue Nile and Nuba Mountains region. What he found surprised him: music was helping to save people from bombing raids by their own government. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video 'From This Day Forward' Reveals Difficult Journey of Transgender Parent

In her documentary, "From This Day Forward", filmmaker Sharon Shattuck reveals the personal journey of her transgender father, as he told his family that he always felt he was a woman inside and decided to live as one. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Floodwaters Threaten Iconic American Home

The Farnsworth House in the Midwest State of Illinois is one of the most iconic homes in America. Thousands of tourists visit the site every year. Its location near a river inspired the design of the house, but, as VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, that very location is now threatening the existence of this National Historic Landmark.
Video

Video Olympics Construction Scars Sacred Korean Mountain

Environmentalists in South Korea are protesting a Winter Olympics construction project to build a ski slope through a 500-year-old protected forest. Brian Padden reports that although there is strong national support for hosting the 2018 Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, there are growing public concerns over the costs and possible ecological damage at the revered mountain.
Video

Video Xenophobia Victims in South Africa Flee Violence, Then Return

Many Malawians fled South Africa early this year after xenophobic attacks on African immigrants. But many quickly found life was no better at home and have returned to South Africa – often illegally and without jobs, and facing the tough task of having to start over. Lameck Masina and Anita Powell file from Johannesburg.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.

VOA Blogs