AFRICA/SOUTH AFRICA - ANC loses absolute majority: "South Africa enters uncharted territories"

Monday, 3 June 2024 elections   justice   peace  

Johannesburg (Agenzia Fides) - The Commission for "Justice and Peace" of the Catholic Bishops' Conference of Southern Africa (which brings together the bishops of South Africa, Botswana and Eswatini) confirms that the general elections of May 29 in South Africa (see Fides, 31/5/2024) were carried out correctly, even if there were "inefficiencies that made voting difficult and in some cases prevented the right to vote". However, overall, a "worrying" decline in the number of voters was also noted. The Justice and Peace Commission recalls that elections in several African countries were marked by serious irregularities and affirms that "there are no such irregularities in the South African elections, including today's, which were highly disputed". South Africa - continues the statement signed by the head of the Justice and Peace Commission, Father Stan Muyebe - "has one of the best democracies in Africa. Every time we vote in South Africa, we should thank God that this country is one of the best democracies in Africa, but it is a democracy that everyone should carefully preserve." In this sense, according to Father Muyebe, the decline in voter turnout is a worrying sign because "it reflects the lack of confidence in the elections among citizens who feel that their individual vote makes no difference. There is a discrepancy between the electoral results and the real lives of citizens who are eligible to vote". If South Africans do not believe they can express their demands through their vote, there is a risk of fuelling an "deep-rooted culture of violent protests," warns Father Muyebe. Of the 41.4 million eligible voters, a total of 27.79 million registered to vote this year. "This means that about 13.7 million eligible voters have not registered," stresses the Justice and Peace Commission. The number of registered voters has fallen progressively: from 80.5 percent of registered voters in 2014 to 74.5 percent in 2019 and to just 66.8 percent in 2024.
"On the positive side, however, more and more young people are registering to vote," says the episcopal commission's statement. This may partly explain why the African National Congress has lost its absolute majority in parliament for the first time since it came to power after the end of apartheid 30 years ago. In the last election in 2019, the party won 230 seats. This year it has only 159 out of a possible 400. The ANC will therefore have to form a coalition with other parties to be able to govern and elect a new Head of State, who will be elected by parliament. "The fact that, for the first time since 1994, the ruling party's absolute majority and political hegemony have been lost places South Africa in uncharted territories," concluded the Justice and Peace Commission. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 3/6/2024)