An Independent Electoral Officer opens a ballot box as counting begins at the Addington Primary School after voting ended for the sixth South African national general elections in Durban, on May 8, 2019.

An Independent Electoral Officer opens a ballot box as counting begins at the Addington Primary School after voting ended for the sixth South African national general elections in Durban, on May 8, 2019.

South Africans went to the polls last Wednesday for a defining election. But the outcome was the same as it has been — voters selected the African National Congress Party (the party of Nelson Mandela) to lead for another five years.

But the margin of the ANC’s win was smaller than in previous years.

Early estimates said the ANC garnered 57 percent of the vote. It has never before fallen under 60 percent, according to The Guardian.

They summarized voters’ complaints:

Many South Africans have been angered by collapsing public services, soaring unemployment, power cuts and high levels of violent crime. There is also rising anger at the ANC’s failure to hold its officials to account after graft investigations.

President Cyril Ramaphosa took over the ANC after former president Jacob Zuma was forced out due to corruption allegations. His “personal popularity has consistently polled higher than his party’s,” The New York Times reported.

The New Yorker’s Ariel Levey spent time with retiree Gawie Snyders, who is part of a lawsuit regarding land ownership. Snyders weighed in on the ANC from his home in McGregor, a town near the Riviersonderend Mountains.

…Snyders has a picture of Nelson Mandela hanging next to snapshots of his grandchildren, but he is not a fan of the contemporary version of Mandela’s party, the African National Congress, which has been in power since South Africa’s first democratic elections, in 1994. He was disgusted with former President Jacob Zuma, who, after nine singularly unprincipled years in office, stands accused of sixteen counts of corruption, fraud, and racketeering. Snyders was frustrated by “load shedding,” the daily periods without electricity imposed by South Africa’s state-owned power utility, whose leaders had been compelled that week to appear before a parliamentary commission investigating corruption. “Politicians, they’re just there to steal!” Snyders said. “We believe in: Grow something! Work with your hands! Not sitting on your ass and talking a lot of crap in Parliament.” He was encouraged, though, by a new position taken up under President Cyril Ramaphosa, who came to office in 2018: a proposed amendment to the constitution that would allow for land to be expropriated without compensating its owners, which Snyders hopes will help with their case.

About 26 million South Africans were eligible to vote.

We analyze the results of the election and what’s ahead for the country.

Produced by Jonquilyn Hill.

Guests

  • Ofeibea Quist-Arcton International correspondent for NPR, based in Senegal
  • Ron Nixon International investigations editor, Associated Press; author of "Selling Apartheid: South Africa's Global Propaganda War"; @nixonron
  • Justice Malala Columnist, Financial Mail and The Times of South Africa

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