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South Africa elections 2024: Can ANC overcome challenge from Zuma, DA, EFF and others? - BBC News South Africa elections 2024: Can ANC overcome challenge from Zuma, DA, EFF and others? - BBC News
(32 minutes later)
Catherine Byaruhanga
BBC News, Soweto
There is something heartwarming about seeing different generations arriving at a polling station - from the elderly who are being helped along to ballot boxes, to first time voters and even young children coming along with their parents. South Africans do not directly vote for a president. Instead they vote for MPs who will then go on to elect the president. The leader of the party that can muster a majority in the National Assembly is likely to become the next head of state.
My colleague and I are at the Orlando West High School polling station just off the historic Vilakazi Street where both Nelson Mandela, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela and Desmond Tutu once lived. Here’s a brief overview of the main party leaders:
Joining the queue are Sharon Nyovane and her 14-year-old son, Luvuyo. Cyril Ramaphosa: South Africa’s current president and leader of the African National Congress (ANC), he’s running for a second term.
The 71-year-old has a wide ranging CV. He’s a political veteran who helped Nelson Mandela negotiate an end to apartheid, but has also been a trade unionist, mine boss and business tycoon.
Change is on their minds and if the opinion polls are anything to go by, it is occuyping the thoughts of many others across the country too. Ramaphosa’s first term in office has been beset by issues such as high unemployment, widespread power cuts and corruption allegations. He promises to create millions of new jobs, end corruption and boost investment.
But the horrors of apartheid are hard to escape and the role the African National Congress (ANC) played in ending white-minority rule remains strong in people’s memories. John Steenhuisen: Heads South Africa’s second largest party, which makes him leader of the opposition.
“Just looking back from where we came from and where our parents came from - it’s that versus the upcoming generations and the change that we want to see for them,” says Nyovane. Along with his party, the liberal Democratic Alliance(DA), Steenhuisen wants greater privatisation. He has also pledged to end power cuts and halve the rate of violent crime.
Her son can't vote yet, but tells us: “I’m very excited to vote at the next election because I think it would give us a chance to express our opinions on what we need to vote for so our country can get fixed.” However, Steenhuisen faces the thorny issue of race. He’s a white man in a country where white people constitute just 7% of the population, yet hold a disproportionate amount of economic power. Thus, numerous commentators question whether South Africa is “ready” for a white president.
Some voters here tell us they will vote for the ANC but they also acknowledge change via job creation and the improvement of services is needed. Julius Malema: Leads South Africa’s third largest party, the radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
If the ANC is to maintain its parliamentary majority in these hotly contested elections, its supporters in strongholds like this need to come out and vote. His focus is on inequality and the ANC’s failure to sufficiently redistribute land from the white minority to the black majority.
This stance, as well as his fiery speeches, has built Malema a considerable following of both poor black South Africans and young voters.
The 43-year-old is also known for generating controversy, throughout his political career he has offended a wide range of people and been convicted twice for hate speech.
Read more about these party leaders here:
Julius Malema - South Africa's radical agenda-setter
John Steenhuisen - The DA leader vowing to 'rescue' South Africa
Cyril Ramaphosa - South African union leader, mine boss, president
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