6 May 2014

South Africa: Ruling ANC Expected to Lose Ground in Elections

Photo: Sofia Tosolari/AllAfrica
Standing in line to vote (file photo).

Ahead of presidential elections in South Africa, many voters have been expressing dissatisfaction with the performance of the ruling African National Congress (ANC). Analysts predict dwindling support for the party.

On a dusty street running through Nkaneng shanty town in the Marikana region of South Africa's North West province, striking mine workers walk up and down aimlessly while others just sit and wait for the day to end.

Most of them live in houses made of corrugated iron. Many have lived here for decades enduring poor living conditions. They lack clean water and proper sanitation.

Nongqele Ngqakanyana

This is an area where, in 2012, more than 30 mine workers were killed by police. What began as a wildcat miners' strike at the Lonmin platinum mine escalated into violent clashes between police, mine security staff, union leaders and striking miners.

Many of the mine workers killing time on the street are employed here. One of them is Nonqgele Ngqakanyana who has been working here since 2009.

Pushing for better conditions

He and his colleagues have been on strike for the past three months. They are demanding better living conditions and a pay rise of 12,500 South African rand (853 euros, $1,188).

"Strikes have left me and my family vulnerable. Our living conditions have worsened," Ngqakanyana said.

Nene Zacharias

Nonetheless, like many miners living in Nkaneng, he says he is going to exercise his right to vote. He will be voting for the African National Congress (ANC).

Right up to the eve of the elections Nene Zacharias was still undecided who would get his vote. He has been working at the Lonmin mine for more than a decade.

Zacharias blames the ANC government for being slow in responding to mine workers' demands.

ANC under criticism

The ANC government has come in for a lot of criticism in the run-up to the elections. Poor service delivery, which is the cause of many protests in the country, is frequently mentioned, as are unemployment, rampant corruption within the ranks of the ANC and lack of quality education.

Abner Nthabeleng

Other parties are expected to benefit from the widespread dissatisfaction with the ANC's performance.

Abner Nthabeleng is a supervisor at a retail store at Marikana shopping center. He says he is tired of the ruling ANC government and is ready for a change.

He is attracted by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party, headed by Julius Malema, a former leader of the ANC youth wing. Nathabeleng says he likes the way the EFF is focusing on youth.

Highly contested elections

Professor Daryl Glaser, head of the department of political studies at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg, says although the ANC is expected to win more than 60 percent, this year's election will be a highly contested one.

Professor Daryl Glaser

This time the ANC is not only being challenged by the long-established Democratic Alliance (DA), it is also facing fierce competion from the newly formed EFF.

Glaser expects the elections, which will be monitored by international and local observers, to be largely free and fair, although "there are some problems with the electoral process such as the no go areas for certain political parties," he told DW.

"There are certain areas, for example in the north west, where the president cancelled his speech and engagement because he had fears for his security."

Some 24 million people are registered to vote on May 6 to elect the country's fifth president since the end of apartheid in 1994 - the ANC has been in power ever since.

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