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

Philippines, Muslim Rebels Try to Salvage Peace Pact

Peace process faces major setback after botched military operation to find terrorists results in bloody gunbattle between government forces, Moro Islamic Liberation Front fighters More

Republicans Expect Long, Expensive Presidential Battle

Political strategist says eventual winner will be one who can put together strongest coalition of various conservative groups that make up Republican Party More

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Engineers have come up with a lever-operated design that makes use of easily accessible bicycle technology More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grievingi
X
Benno Muchler
March 26, 2015 3:41 PM
Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video US, South Korea Conduct Joint Military Exercises

The Eighth U.S. Army Division and the Eighth Republic of Korea Mechanized Infantry Division put on a well orchestrated show of force for the media this week during their joint military training exercises in South Korea. VOA’s Seoul correspondent Brian Padden was there and reports the soldiers were well disciplined both in conducting a complex live fire exercise and in staying on message with the press.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Young Filmmakers Shine Spotlight on Giving Back

A group of student filmmakers from across the United States joined President Barack Obama at the White House this month for the second annual White House Student Film Festival. Fifteen short films were officially selected from more than 1,500 entries by students aged 6 through 18. The filmmakers and their families then joined the president and a group of celebrities for a screening of their films. VOA’s Julie Taboh reports.
Video

Video VOA Exclusive: Interview with Afghan President Ashraf Ghani

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, during his first visit as president to Washington, gave a one-on-one interview with VOA Afghan Service reporter Said Suleiman Ashna, about his request for a change in U.S. troop levels, the threat from the Islamic State, and repairing relations with the United States and Pakistan. The interview was held at Blair House, late Sunday, in Pashto.
Video

Video California Science Center Tells Story of Dead Sea Scrolls

The ancient manuscripts were uncovered in the mid-20th century, and they are still yielding clues about life and religious beliefs in ancient Israel. As VOA's Mike O'Sullivan reports, an exhibit in Los Angeles shows how modern science is bringing the history of these ancient documents to life.
Video

Video Angelina Jolie Takes Another Bold Step

Hollywood actress and filmmaker Angelina Jolie has revealed she had her ovaries and fallopian tubes removed to lower her odds of getting cancer. Doctors say the huge publicity over her decision will help raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening. VOA’s George Putic has more

All About America

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More