In towns and villages in South Africa, roads are dotted with potholes, garbage piles up on sidewalks, and water and electricity supplies are cut off for hours, if not days, non-stop.
Years of neglect by local authorities may once again haunt the ruling African National Congress, with polls indicating that its turnout in municipal elections scheduled for Monday may drop below 50% for the first time since it took power. in 1994. The party also seems unlikely to meet its goal of regaining control of several key urban centers that it lost five years ago.
A pothole is found in the road in the Ekurhuleni district of Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. Power outages by South Africa’s cash-strapped utility are hurting the nation’s economy But more regular supply disruptions by municipalities are causing this. even worse.
The election will serve as a litmus test of support for President Cyril Ramaphosa, who will likely seek a second term as head of the ANC next year and then as the nation’s leader in 2024. economy and end the corruption that has devastated finances state.
A survey of 1,501 people conducted by the research firm Ipsos South Africa in August showed that the ANC garnered 49.3% support, the main opposition, the Democratic Alliance, 17.9%, and the populist Economic Freedom Fighters, 14.5%. No party is expected to win outright in the capital Pretoria and the surrounding municipality of Tshwane, along with the economic hub of Johannesburg and several other cities, meaning they are likely to continue to be led by unstable coalitions.
“It’s actually a very, very sad case in the sense that many voters are unhappy with the decisions they have made,” Ipsos Director Mari Harri said in an October 29 interview. “There are about 20 to 25% of the voters who say they are going to vote for a new party. I don’t think the ANC is in a very good place at the moment, but neither are most other parties. ”
A series of reports from the National Treasury and the Auditor General highlight the dire state of local government, with poor management, key positions vacant or filled by unskilled personnel, and billions of rand wasted or embezzled. Only 27 of the 257 municipalities received clean audit reports last year, 163 of them were in financial difficulties and 102 adopted budgets that they could not finance.
Municipal IQ, which collects data from the local government, recorded 868 protests against municipalities in the last five years and 53 in the first five months of 2021.
The collapse of services has been a major impediment to investment, as dairy company Clover Industries plans to relocate operations to the northern city of Lichtenberg and poultry producer Astral Foods sued the eastern Lekwa municipality for failing to provide water and electricity.
The deterioration is evident in Newcastle’s Osizweni Township, an industrial hub 255 kilometers (158 miles) southeast of Johannesburg, where streets are disintegrating and residents complain that the water supply is contaminated. Ntuthuko Mahlaba, the outgoing mayor, was removed from the ANC’s list of candidates for the next ballot after being indicted on charges including robbery and assault that left a man partially paralyzed.
Vice President David Mabuza paralyzed Osizweni when he arrived in a convoy of 15 vehicles to campaign last weekend. Despite dissatisfaction with his living conditions, most people said they would continue to vote for the ANC, because they did not have another political home.
In previous elections, dissatisfied supporters of the party have tended not to vote rather than vote for the opposition.
Cracked concrete fences surround an abandoned building in the Ekurhuleni district of Johannesburg, South Africa, Tuesday, Nov. 12, 2019. Power outages at South Africa’s cash-strapped utility are hurting the nation’s economy, But more regular supply interruptions by municipalities are causing this even worse.
The ANC, Africa’s oldest political movement, continues to gain support, especially among older voters, due to the leadership role it played in the fight against apartheid, and has strengthened support through the disbursement of social grants and housing . The party’s reputation was heavily marked by the nine-year presidency of Jacob Zuma, which was marred by a succession of scandals, damage that his popular successor Ramaphosa has struggled to repair since taking office in early 2018.
Ramaphosa admitted that some ANC councilors have neglected their constituents and urged voters to give the party another chance. Their candidates have the backing of the communities they serve and the contaminated ones have been eliminated, he said.
“We are ridding this organization of corruption and bad practices. We have admitted that we made mistakes, ”the president said at a party rally in Rylands, a working-class suburb of Cape Town this month. “This is a now or never moment for the ANC and this is what energizes us for the ANC. We know what it means to restore the effectiveness and integrity of the ANC. ”
The DA governs the five best-managed municipalities, according to a Ratings Afrika study, yet the party’s predominantly white leadership has struggled to gain ground in a country where 80% of the population is black. And while the EFF’s calls to nationalize the land, banks, and mines have resonated with many poor black township residents, it has made little progress in rural areas.
The elections are being contested by 95,247 candidates, including 1,546 independents, and 26.2 million people have registered to vote.
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