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South Africa prepares for pivotal election that could see ANC lose its grip on power

South Africa heads to the polls on Wednesday, and the dominance of the ANC is expected to wane.

The issues facing the country are many and remain systemic. They include widespread blackouts, high unemployment, political corruption and shocking crime statistics.

Fitch Solutions expects the ANC to form a coalition with smaller parties, but also flagged several unexpected — but possible — outcomes that could be negatively received by markets.

Some 30 years on from the peaceful transition from apartheid rule to democracy, South Africa could once again be on the cusp of change.

Since coming to power in South Africa’s first democratic election in 1994, the African National Congress has focused on making inclusivity a core pillar of the country’s economy.

But its efforts to raise the living standards of the disadvantaged have not always been successful, and in Wednesday’s election, the dominance of the party is expected to wane.

Current polling suggests that the ANC, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, could see its share of the vote fall below 50% for the first time.

While the party of Nelson Mandela had 57.5% support in the last national election, it was already edging close to losing its stronghold in key areas such as the economic hub of the country, Gauteng.

Of the 62-million-strong population, more than 27.6 million South Africans are registered to vote. Turnout may be a worry as voter apathy rises.

At the last national assembly election in 2019, turnout was 66%, already 7 percentage points lower than the previous vote. Even with the highest possible voter turnout, the ANC’s result is expected to drop below 50%.

Blackouts, unemployment, corruption and crime

The issues facing the country are many and remain systemic.

Africa’s most industrialized nation has a weak power grid that has led to hundreds of hours of blackouts hampering development and manufacturing.

Voters have much more choice this time around, with many more candidates to choose from.

Some 14,889 candidates will stand in contention for 887 seats across at least 70 parties.

While the incumbent Ramaphosa stands again, his biggest rivals include John Steenhuisen from Democratic Alliance and Julius Malema from Economic Freedom Fighters.


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