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

Karzai's Legacy: Missed Opportunities?

Afghanistan's president leaves behind a much different nation than the one he inherited, yet his legacy from 13 years in power is getting mixed reviews More

Video Secret Service Chief Under Fire for White House Security Breach

Julia Pierson faces tough questions from lawmakers after recent intrusion at White House, says: 'It is clear that our security plan was not executed properly' More

Frustrated, Liberian Students Want Ebola Fight Role

Thousands have volunteered to go to counties, rural villages to talk to people in their language about deadly virus More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
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