These were my highlights of the South African municipal elections, held on 3rd August:
The ANC lost majority support in economic and political hubs— Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, and Nelson Mandela Bay. Yes, enthusiasm for the ANC has dwindled, but the main reason its proportion of support dropped was that the DA and the EFF gained more support by encouraging a higher turnout of voters—especially youth, for EFF—and by luring voters away from the country’s smaller parties, like UDM and APC, whose supporters have never had the experience of feeling that their party could win. This means that while old ANC supporters are fairly loyal, others who were not previously able or motivated to vote, or who have until now supported no-hope parties, came out and voted for what they believe are viable alternatives to the ANC. To me this suggests that though the ANC has failed to provide even a minimum level of dignity for all, South Africans have not lost their faith in democracy. Viva!
Julius Malema is now the Kingmaker in South African politics, with The ANC and the DA both needing to form coalitions with the fledgling EFF. Asked whether they would be prepared to form a coalition with the ANC, both Julius Malema and DA leader Mmusi Maimane said no. Both gave the same reason: the ANC’s loss of majority support is a sign that the people want change, and it would be disrespectful towards defecting ANC voters to allow the ANC to govern the cities anyway. While they gave the same response, they differed in tone: Mmusi was earnest and business-like, while Julius—registering the irony of his Kingmaker position just a few years after having been expelled from the ANC— thought to add the half-serious suggestion (taunt) that if the ANC were to drop Jacob Zuma immediately, the EFF would consider a coalition.
My favourite election quote: “On 3 August we are not going to bury [the ANC] but we are going to unveil its tombstone.” –Malema
My favourite election news story: Julius Malema accidentally voted for the ANC. He was a member of the ANC for so long, selecting ANC as a matter of course, and on the day of the elections had so much on his mind that he picked Zuma’s party. The Kingmaker apologized to his supporters for this blunder, and promised to vote for the EFF next time.