South Africans head to the polls amid frustrations with crime, corruption and immigration

May 8, 2019

The African National Congress has been the ruling party of post-apartheid South Africa since the election of Nelson Mandela in 1994.

"And in a lot of areas there’s been good progress,” said Zintle Koza, a visiting fellow from South Africa at the Woodrow Wilson Center in Washington, D.C. “But there’s also a recognition that things could have been better.”

Polls indicate the ANC is likely to retain control, but with a reduced share of the vote. John Campbell, a fellow in African studies at the Council on Foreign Relations and former ambassador to Nigeria, said public disillusionment with crime, immigration and corruption is diluting support for sitting president Cyril Ramaphosa.

“He has to balance his free market proclivities with the fact that there are a large number of South Africans who feel left behind,” Campbell said.

More than a quarter of the population is out of work, one of the highest unemployment rates in the world. Opposition parties claim millions of dollars that could have been spent on providing better housing, health care, essential services and education have been looted by corrupt officials.

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