Big challenge for all parties
The ANC’s birthday celebration at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium this weekend kicks off in earnest the race to the polls.
President Cyril Ramaphosa is launching the ruling party’s election campaign at the mass rally and party leaders are hoping the choice of KwaZulu-Natal, former president Jacob Zuma’s heartland, will signal the party is serious about building unity in the wake of years of divisive factionalism.
The ANC, which has ruled SA since the first democratic elections in 1994, has to convince voters it is able to address the twin demons of corruption and patronage which have bedeviled economic growth and service delivery.
It also has to convince South Africans that it can tackle the country’s biggest problem – a sluggish economy and rising unemployment, which is particularly prevalent among youth.
The ANC needs to present a vision that reinforces its commitment to non-racialism at the same time as meaningfully addressing the gross inequalities that persist a quarter of a century after apartheid rule ended.
All of this is a tall order, but opposition parties face equally tough challenges.
The ANC experienced a sharp decline in popularity under the scandal-ridden presidency of Jacob Zuma and the 2016 local elections saw party support fall way below the 60% mark and the ANC lose control of several major cities.
But recent surveys predict this downward trend is likely to be reversed in the coming national and provincial elections, largely because of Ramaphosa’s profile.
Opposition parties, many of whom are battling their own internal divisions, will have to convince voters they offer a viable alternative.
The elections must take place between May 7 and August 5 and Ramaphosa is likely to announce the date later in January.
The coming months will see the public bombarded with the usual razzmatazz electioneering.
We can expect a plethora of promises spiced up with some smear campaigns and attention-grabbing stunts.
It is up to citizens to remain soberly mindful of the pressing issues this province and country face and make up their own minds about what kind of future they want.
The first step to playing our part in building that future is to make sure everybody over the age of 18 is registered to cast a vote.
The last registration weekend will take place on January 26 and 27.
We urge all our readers to make sure they qualify to cast a ballot.
The ANC has to convince voters it is able to address the twin demons of corruption and patronage