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

Obama: Alaskans Feel Signs of Climate Change

They're seeing bigger storm surges as sea ice melts, more wildfires, erosion of glaciers, shorelines More

1855 Slave Brochure Starkly Details Sale of Black Americans

Document lists entire families that were up for sale in New Orleans, offering graphic insight into the slavery trade More

Katrina Brought Enduring Changes to New Orleans

The city’s recovery is the result of the people and culture the city is famous for, as well as newcomers and start-up industries More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalatesi
X
August 27, 2015 2:08 AM
Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Colombians Flee Venezuela as Border Crisis Escalates

Hundreds of Colombians have fled Venezuela since last week, amid an escalating border crisis between the two countries. Last week, Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro ordered the closure of a key border crossing after smugglers injured three Venezuelan soldiers and a civilian. The president also ordered the deportation of Colombians who are in Venezuela illegally. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video Is China's Economic Data Accurate?

Some investors say China's wild stock market gyrations have been made worse by worries about the reliability of that nation's economic data. And some critics say the reports can mislead investors by painting an unrealistically-strong picture of the economy. A key China scholar says Beijing is not fudging ((manipulating)) the numbers, but that the economy is evolving quickly from smoke-stack industries to services, and the ways of tracking new economic activity are falling behind the change. V
Video

Video Next to Iran, Climate at Forefront of Obama Agenda

President Barack Obama this week announced new initiatives aimed at making it easier for Americans to access renewable energy sources such as solar and wind. Obama is not slowing down when it comes to pushing through climate change measures, an issue he says is the greatest threat to the country’s national security. VOA correspondent Aru Pande has more from the White House.
Video

Video Shipping Containers Provide Experimental Housing

Housing prices around the San Francisco Bay area are out of reach for many people, so some young entrepreneurs, artists and tech industry workers are creating their own houses using converted shipping containers. But as VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports from Oakland, the effort requires ingenuity and dealing with restrictive local laws.
Video

Video Arctic Draws International Competition for Oil

A new geopolitical “Great Game” is underway in earth’s northernmost region, the Arctic, where Russia has claimed a large area for resource development and President Barack Obama recently approved Shell Oil Company’s test-drilling project in an area under U.S. control. Greg Flakus reports.
Video

Video Philippine Maritime Police: Chinese Fishermen a Threat to Country’s Security

China and the Philippines both claim maritime rights in the South China Sea.  That includes the right to fish in those waters. Jason Strother reports on how the Philippines is catching Chinese nationals it says are illegal poachers. He has the story from Palawan province.
Video

Video Technique May Eliminate Drill-and-Fill Dental Care

Many people dread visiting dentists because they're afraid of drills. Now, however, a technology developed by a British firm promises to eliminate the need for mechanical cleaning of dental cavities by speeding a natural process of tooth repair. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video China's Spratly Island Building Said to Light Up the Night 'Like A City'

Southeast Asian countries claim China has illegally seized territory in the Spratly islands. It is especially a concern for a Philippine mayor who says Beijing is occupying parts of his municipality. Jason Strother reports from the capital of Palawan province, Puerto Princesa.
Video

Video Ages-old Ice Reveals Secrets of Climate Change

Ice caps don't just exist at the world's poles. There are also tropical ice caps, and the largest sits atop the Peruvian Andes - but it is melting, quickly, and may be gone within the next 20 years. George Putic reports scientists are now rushing to take samples to get at the valuable information about climate change locked in the ice.
Video

Video French Experiment in Integrating Roma Under Threat

Plans to destroy France’s oldest slum have sparked an outcry on the part of its Roma residents. As Lisa Bryant reports from the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, rights groups argue the community is a fledgling experiment on integrating Roma who are often outcasts in many parts of Europe.
Video

Video Kenyans Turn to Agriculture for Business

Each year Kenyan universities continue to churn out graduates for the job market despite the already existing high rate of unemployment among youth in the country. Some of these young men and women have realized that agriculture can be as rewarding as any other business or job, and they are resorting to agribusiness in large numbers as a way of tackling unemployment. Rael Ombuor reports for VOA.
Video

Video First Women Graduate Elite Army Ranger School

Two women are making history for the U.S. Army by proving they are among the toughest of the tough. VOA's Carla Babb reports from Fort Benning, Georgia as 94 men and those two women rise as graduates of the difficult Ranger school.

VOA Blogs