News / Africa

South Africans Show Love for Mandela, Not His Party

Members of the African National Congress (ANC) and mourners sing to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela outside his old house in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, Dec. 8. 2013.
Members of the African National Congress (ANC) and mourners sing to celebrate the life of Nelson Mandela outside his old house in Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa, Dec. 8. 2013.
Anita Powell
South Africans say they’re heartbroken over the death of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, the freedom fighter who brought down the racist regime and became the nation’s first black president. But there appears to be growing discontent with the party that Mandela brought to power, the African National Congress.

Mandela often liked to joke that when he died, he would immediately set up a branch of the African National Congress in heaven.
 
But here on earth, the party he led to power in 1994 seems to be losing its halo.
 
South Africa faces national elections next year, the 20th anniversary of South Africa’s transformation from white-minority rule to democracy. The ANC has dominated national politics since then, and ANC leaders frequently mention Mandela’s unswerving devotion to his party -- in effect, making the two inseparable.
 
But South Africans said that since Mandela’s death last week, they are increasingly easily able to distinguish their love for the man from their growing criticism of his party.
 
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. The ruling party has also been slammed in recent years with a number of corruption scandals.
 
Frans Maloka, 66, lives in the impoverished township of Alexandra. He said he no longer has faith in the party that earned him his freedom -- and even less in current President Jacob Zuma. 

“No no no no no I won’t go there. I tell you, there’s no security. But I won’t vote ANC. I rather can vote DA. …," he said. "Look , now we are suffer. You see, ANC no more good. Under Zuma, is no more good. … You see … it’s not ANC we need. We voting when Mandela, we put Mandela. This ANC’s no good.” 
 
He’s talking about the nation’s lead opposition party, the Democratic Alliance.

DA spokesman, Mmusi Maimane, said the party has avoided talking about politics in the wake of Mandela’s death. Like many South Africans, Maimane referred to Mandela by his clan name, Madiba.

“As a party we’ve taken a view that says we don’t want to divert the focus so that it becomes about politicking and politics. But that in fact it is about Nelson Mandela’s life, it is about the celebration of that, it’s about the Madiba family," Maimane said. "And so to cloud that with so many political issues would be in some ways to do an injustice to a life well lived. “
 
Maimane said his party accepts that Mandela is inextricably tied to politics. But he notes that criticism of the ANC was swelling long before Mandela’s death.

“That feeling is one that has been growing regardless of the passing of Nelson Mandela. There’s a broad parallel where people are questioning the future of this country and there’s a question about that that still lingers on," he said. "And I think, as, it’s a very difficult time and so people are going to make statements either way or another. Ours is to accept the fact that there is going to be an election next year which is going to be an interesting one, a tough one at that.”
 
That trend has produced that rare and elusive creature, rarely seen even outside of South Africa: the undecided voter.
 
Unemployed construction worker Jan Mogano, 32, is that voter. He said he worries that Mandela’s death will lower the world’s confidence in South Africa.

“Even our ruling party, the way things are now, it’s like, I think, lots of people, they don’t know who to vote for now,” he said.
 
That, truly, is Mandela’s legacy -- a leader so inspiring, so beloved, that many cannot envision a future without him.

You May Like

Turkey's Controversial Reform Bill Giving Investors Jitters

Homeland security reform bill will give police new powers in search, seizure, detention and arrests, while restricting the rights of suspects, their attorneys More

Audio Slideshow In Kenyan Prison, Good Grades Are Path to Freedom

Some inmates who get high marks could see their sentences commuted to non-custodial status More

'Rumble in the Jungle' Turns 40

'The Champ' knocked Foreman out to regain crown he had lost 7 years earlier when US government accused him of draft-dodging and boxing officials revoked his license More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisiai
X
Henry Ridgwell
October 30, 2014 11:39 PM
Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Victorious Secularists Face Challenge to Form Government in Tunisia

Official results from Tunisia show the Islamist Ennahda party has failed to win the second free election since the so-called "Arab Spring" uprising in 2011. Ennahda, which handed power to a government of technocrats pending the elections, lost out to the secular party Nidaa Tounes. Henry Ridgwell reports from London that the relatively peaceful poll offers some hope in a volatile region.
Video

Video Africa Tells its Story Through Fashion

In Africa, Fashion Week is a riot of colors, shapes, patterns and fabrics - against the backdrop of its ongoing struggle between nature and its fast-growing urban edge. How do these ideas translate into needle and thread? VOA’s Anita Powell visited this year’s Mercedes Benz Fashion Week Africa in Johannesburg to find out.
Video

Video Smugglers Offer Cheap Passage From Turkey to Syria

Smugglers in Turkey offer a relatively cheap passage across the border into Syria. Ankara has stepped up efforts to stem the flow of foreign fighters who want to join Islamic State militants fighting for control of the Syrian border city of Kobani. But porous borders and border guards who can be bribed make illegal border crossings quite easy. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video China Political Meeting Seeks to Improve Rule of Law

China’s communist leaders will host a top level political meeting this week, called the Fourth Plenum, and for the first time in the party’s history, rule of law will be a key item on the agenda. Analysts and Chinese media reports say the meetings could see the approval of long-awaited measures aimed at giving courts more independence and include steps to enhance an already aggressive and high-reaching anti-corruption drive. VOA’s Bill Ide has more from Beijing.
Video

Video After Decades of Pressure, Luxembourg Drops Bank Secrecy Rules

European Union finance ministers have reached a breakthrough agreement that will make it more difficult for tax cheats to hide their money. The new legislation, which had been blocked for years by countries with a reputation as tax havens, was approved last week after Luxembourg and Austria agreed to lift their vetoes. But as Mil Arcega reports, it doesn’t mean tax cheats have run out of places to keep their money hidden.
Video

Video Kobani Refugees Welcome, Turkey Criticizes, US Airdrop

Residents of Kobani in northern Syria have welcomed the airdrop of weapons, ammunition and medicine to Kurdish militia who are resisting the seizure of their city by Islamic State militants. The Turkish government, however, has criticized the operation. VOA’s Scott Bobb reports from southeastern Turkey, across the border from Kobani.

All About America

AppleAndroid