South Africa to hold general elections on May 7, 2014

February 7, 2014

Africa, International

South Africa to hold general elections on May 7, 2014

Xinhua

CAPE TOWN– South Africa will hold its national and provincial elections on May 7, President Jacob Zuma announced on Friday.

“We hold national general elections without fail every five years,” Zuma said in a statement. “These are historic elections as they take place during the 20th anniversary of our freedom from apartheid bondage.”

Zuma said the electoral term of the present government will come to an end on April 22.

The time has come for South Africans to work together again, to prepare for the fifth national general elections since the end of apartheid in 1994, Zuma noted.

Zuma said he has met with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) to discuss preparations, and also with the nine premiers.

“We deliberated on this very important right of our people to elect a government of their choice, for which thousands of South Africans laid down their lives,” Zuma said.

He said he is satisfied that the IEC preparations are at an advanced stage.

Zuma said South Africa is a much better place to live in now than before 1994, because of the participation and contribution of South Africans.

“We have worked hard to build a peaceful and stable South Africa from the ruins of apartheid violence, divisions and hatred. ”

The president reminds all people to go out to register to vote this coming Saturday and Sunday, the last registration period for this election.

He invites the youth to register to vote in the cities and towns where they are studying and wherever they will be in May this year.

“We rely on the youth to take the benefits of this freedom forward, and to build this country further. South Africa is their inheritance,” Zuma said.

“Most importantly, I urge all our people to promote peace, tolerance and peaceful coexistence as we move towards the elections and during the elections.”

As a dominant political party, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) is set to win the elections with over 60 percent of the electoral support, although its popularity is declining.

The DA is determined to keep the Western Cape and will try to take control of Gauteng Province, the economic hub of the country.

As of Thursday, overall registration stood at 24.1 million, 76. 7 percent of the estimated voting age population which, according to Statistics SA, is 31.4 million.

The IEC has set itself a target of 80 percent of the voting age population on the voters’ roll by proclamation date.

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Video: A Message from Helen Zille to South Africans abroad
Helen Zille is the Premier of the Western Cape, a member of the Western Cape Provincial Parliament, leader of South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) political party, and a former Mayor of Cape Town. Zille is a former journalist and anti-apartheid activist

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Video: Inside Story – South African elections

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Video: ANC and DA leaders on the campaign trail

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Monday 3 February 2014

Mamphela Ramphele defends decision to quit election pact
South African politician says time was not right for her to run as presidential candidate of Democratic Alliance

South African Elections

By David Smith in Johannesburg
The Guardian (UK)

The South African politician Mamphela Ramphele has defended her decision to pull out of a pact with the main opposition party after five chaotic days.

Amid much fanfare last week, Ramphele was named as the presidential candidate of the Democratic Alliance (DA), in what was seen as the most serious challenge yet to the 20-year stranglehold of the African National Congress (ANC).

But on Sunday the DA announced that the deal had collapsed, blaming Ramphele for reneging on their agreement and stating that she “cannot be trusted”.

Both sides organised press conferences in Johannesburg on Monday, fuelling a war of words that many commentators see as playing into the hands of the ANC, which has worries of its own about voter disenchantment.

First Ramphele, a co-founder of the black consciousness movement who bore two of Steve Biko’s children, told the media: “I believed that we had the opportunity to transcend party politics and engage South Africans in a conversation about the future. The last week has demonstrated that, for some, this new way of thinking about our future will be hard to achieve right now … The time for this was not right.”

The DA has claimed that Ramphele wanted to be the presidential candidate for both the DA and her own party, Agang SA, which she founded a year ago. “Some [people] cannot or will not transcend party politics,” Ramphele said. “We see people trapped in old-style race-based politics.”

She added: “If I now have to be a DA member to see that dream and vision realised then I unfortunately cannot pursue the DA offer. There are millions of South Africans who will never vote for the DA, but they want a home, which Agang SA will give them.”

Ramphele admitted that the decision to accept the nomination to be the DA’s presidential candidate had been a rushed one. She said the real issues facing South Africa were a slowing economy, an inability to provide jobs, rampant corruption, a failure to protect the lives of women and children, a public service that is an extension of the governing party, an incomplete reconciliation, and social, economic and ongoing political transformation.

Across town, the DA – accused of parachuting in a black leader to challenge perceptions that it remains a vanguard of white interests – had its own version of events. Its leader, Helen Zille, who last week hailed the coalition as a “game-changer”, denied it had been rushed and said talks with Ramphele had been going on for three and a half years.

“This was a genuinely good-faith attempt to realign politics and bring opposition parties together,” she said. “You have to be bold.”

Zille said she started getting worried about Ramphele’s commitment even before last Tuesday’s press conference in Cape Town. This was because Ramphele said she wanted to rewrite the media statement to say she would remain the leader of her own party.

“I called and said Mamphela, this can’t happen. It’s an electoral nonsense. It is unconstitutional … And it would entirely confuse our voters.” Zille objected to the idea that the leader of one party could be the candidate for another, which she said Ramphele had touted as a “uniquely South African solution”.

Zille said she wanted to call off the press conference, but Ramphele insisted on going ahead. As the week wore on, the mixed messages continued, Zille added. “In the past week we realised we could not in good conscience say Mamphela should be the president of South Africa.”

She admitted that Ramphele’s race had been a factor in the deal, but only in combination with her international reputation as an academic and a manager as well as an impeccable struggle record. Flanked by black party colleagues, she added: “I reject the insinuation that any of my colleagues on this platform would be window dressing … We don’t do window dressing. We look at achieving diversity.”

Zille, who in her career as an anti-apartheid journalist revealed the circumstances of Biko’s murder in police custody, admitted that her long personal friendship with Ramphele has taken “a very bad knock”.

The veteran political commentator Allister Sparks said the DA had time to regroup before the national elections, expected in April or May, the first in South Africa since the death of Nelson Mandela.

“I think it puts a fatal end to Mamphela Ramphele’s image and reputation as a political figure,” he told Reuters. “It will do much less damage to the DA – it was an attempt to burnish its image by having a black face there – but we’ve still got about three months to go before the election and I think there’s time to recover.”

The DA secured 16.66% of the popular vote at the last election, in 2009, well behind the ANC’s 65.9%.

http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/feb/03/mamphela-ramphele-quits-election-pact
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Video: Ramphele and Zille on the collapse of merger

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Video: About Agang SA and Mamphela Ramphele

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Video:Helen Zille speaks on the Democratic Alliance party in South Africa

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