South Africa Election: Can ANC Survive the May 29 Challenge?

South Africa Election Can ANC Survive the May 29 Challenge South Africa Election Can ANC Survive the May 29 Challenge
Supporters wearing African National Congress party colors wave a flag in Bloemfontein, South Africa.Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

South Africa is set to hold national and provincial elections on May 29, and all eyes are on President Cyril Ramaphosa and his ruling African National Congress (ANC) party. After 25 years of governing, the ANC is facing a tough challenge to retain its parliamentary majority in what is being hailed as the country’s seventh democratic election since the end of apartheid.

The upcoming 2024 elections hold significant symbolism, as they coincide with South Africa’s celebration of 30 years of freedom and democracy. In 1994, the country held its first democratic elections after the fall of apartheid, which had marginalized and oppressed Black and non-white South Africans for decades. These upcoming elections not only mark the fulfillment of the country’s constitutional obligation, but also serve as a celebration of the democratic journey that South Africa has embarked upon.

President Ramaphosa, who is seeking a second term as president, has emphasized the importance of these elections in determining the future of the nation. In his recent State of the Nation Address, he reiterated the progress that the country has made over the past three decades, attributing much of it to the ANC’s leadership. However, opinion polls suggest that the ANC may face a tough battle in certain areas, with opposition parties gaining ground and challenging their dominance.

South Africa Election Can ANC Survive the May 29 Challenge
Supporters of South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) attend the 112th anniversary celebrations of the founding of the party in January 2024 [File: Siphiwe Sibeko/Reuters]
In recent years, the ANC has faced criticism for its handling of various socio-economic issues, including corruption, unemployment, and inequality. These challenges have fueled disillusionment among some South Africans, leading them to seek alternative political parties that promise change and better governance. The ANC’s ability to address these concerns and convince voters of their commitment to progress will be crucial in determining their fate in the May 29 elections.

One of the key factors that will play a significant role in the ANC’s survival is President Ramaphosa himself. Since assuming office in 2018, he has focused on tackling corruption and promoting economic growth through initiatives such as the investment drive and job creation. Ramaphosa’s efforts have been widely applauded both domestically and internationally, with many seeing him as a reformist leader who can steer the country in the right direction. However, he still faces resistance from within his own party, where factionalism and vested interests pose a threat to his agenda.


The upcoming election for the president of South Africa is of immense significance for the future trajectory of the nation. At the center of this pivotal moment is Cyril Ramaphosa, who at the age of 71, is seeking a second term as the president. The outcome of this vote could shape the course of the country’s governance and determine whether the African National Congress (ANC) can maintain its position as the leading party in South Africa. The ANC has held power since 1994, a period characterized by the dismantling of apartheid and the pursuit of progress and equality.

However, recent opinion polls indicate a shift in public sentiment, with opposition parties gaining ground in certain regions. This scenario poses a significant challenge for the ANC, raising concerns that their parliamentary majority, which they have consistently secured in previous elections, may be in jeopardy for the first time. As South Africa stands at this critical crossroad, the electorate’s decision will not only impact the ANC’s ability to govern but will also determine the nation’s future direction and its commitment to progress.

Power cuts and employment crisis in South Africa

The power cuts and employment crisis in South Africa are becoming serious issues that may have a significant impact on the upcoming elections. The Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), both opposition parties, have been vocal about these problems. In a surprising turn of events, former President Jacob Zuma has shown his support for the newly formed uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK) party, also known as Spear of the Nation. This endorsement has the potential to attract some traditional ANC voters, despite Zuma’s ongoing legal battles and allegations of corruption.

One of the major challenges facing the ANC is the persistent power cuts, locally known as “load shedding,” which have plagued the country for years. Despite the president’s recent assurances that the worst is behind them, the outages continue to happen, affecting local businesses and the overall economy. Additionally, poor service delivery and a high level of unemployment are also contributing to the dissatisfaction among the population. The national statistics agency, StatsSA, recently reported an alarming unemployment rate of 32.1 percent in December. This statistic reveals the magnitude of the employment crisis in the country.

South Africa Election Can ANC Survive the May 29 Challenge
Supporters wearing African National Congress party colors wave a flag in Bloemfontein, South Africa.Photographer: Waldo Swiegers/Bloomberg

In the midst of all this, South Africa is also making its mark on the international stage. The country has taken a stand against the ongoing war on Gaza by backing efforts to secure an end to the Israeli occupation of Palestine. This foreign policy stance could shape how South Africans perceive their government’s priorities and may also influence the outcome of the elections.

In a bold move, South Africa has taken a stand against Israel by filing a case at the International Court of Justice (ICJ), accusing the country of committing genocide. This action not only highlights the close ties between South Africa and Palestine, but also aims to question the legality of the Israeli occupation. Undoubtedly, the domestic support for South Africa’s actions is overwhelming, given the historical relationship between the two nations.

However, President Ramaphosa’s motivations are not without examination, with some critics suggesting that his actions are merely an attempt to gain political advantage in the upcoming elections. With South Africans preparing to elect a new National Assembly and provincial legislature in each of the country’s provinces, followed by the election of the president, Ramaphosa’s intentions are being closely scrutinized.

Despite the criticisms, South Africa’s decision to pursue legal action against Israel sends a powerful message and adds to the ongoing debate surrounding the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Another challenge for the ANC is the fragmentation of the opposition. While opposition parties have gained momentum in recent years, they have failed to unite under a single banner, creating a divided front that is unable to mount a strong challenge against the ANC. This fragmentation has worked in the ANC’s favor in previous elections, allowing them to maintain their grip on power despite declining support. However, as public dissatisfaction grows, there is a possibility of opposition parties forming strategic alliances that could pose a significant threat to the ANC’s dominance.

The outcome of the May 29 elections will not only shape the political landscape of South Africa for the next five years, but also determine the direction and pace of socio-economic development. While the ANC has been the dominant political force since the end of apartheid, this election is an opportunity for the citizens of South Africa to express their aspirations for change and hold their leaders accountable. The ANC’s ability to address the concerns of its citizens and demonstrate responsiveness to their needs will be crucial in securing their support.

Overall, the ANC’s position in the upcoming May 29 elections is far from certain. While they may enjoy a long-established history and the symbolism of their role in the fight against apartheid, they face a tough challenge from opposition parties and disillusioned voters.

President Cyril Ramaphosa’s leadership and his commitment to addressing key issues will play a central role in determining the ANC’s survival. Furthermore, the unity or lack thereof among opposition parties will greatly impact their ability to challenge the ANC’s dominance. As South Africa celebrates 30 years of freedom and democracy, the outcome of these elections will shape the future of the nation and determine whether the ANC can continue to govern and lead its people towards progress.

Ramaphosa, 71, is seeking a second term as president in a vote that may prove historic, with opinion polls showing opposition parties gaining ground over his African National Congress (ANC) in some areas.
The ANC has led the country since 1994. But the party is now struggling in the polls, and many analysts say this year it will for the first time get less than the 50 percent parliamentary majority it has won in past elections.

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