Belmont Club


Jacob Zuma won the Presidency of South Africa, but neither as narrowly as the opposition predicted nor by as large as a margin as the ANC formerly enjoyed. All Africa focused on the setbacks inside of Zuma’s victory.

Cape Town — The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has won South Africa’s national election with a slightly reduced majority, narrowly failing to achieve the two-thirds majority that would enable it to change the country’s Constitution unilaterally. Although the party lost votes across the board in most provinces, the losses were largely offset by a dramatic leap in support in KwaZulu-Natal, home province of the ANC’s leader, Jacob Zuma – at the expense of Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).

But in the Western Cape, centred on Cape Town, the ANC suffered as calamitous a setback as did the IFP in KwaZulu-Natal, losing control of the province to the official opposition, the Democratic Party.

The Online Times noted however, that opposition scenarios predicting an ANC meltdown did not eventuate. “The ANC’s victory was never in doubt, but most pundits expected widespread voter disgruntlement to result in a sharply reduced majority. In the event, the share of the vote was down – from 69.7% in 2004 to 65.9%, just short of a two-thirds majority – but the lead was decisive.”

The South African Times, in a post election editorial, articulated the concerns on both sides. “We hope he will quickly stamp out the nascent personality cult building around him … For the third of South Africa that did not elect the ANC, the challenge is to put aside past resentments and judge the Zuma government on its actions, and accord his high office the respect it demands. As the new executive begins to submit policy proposals, the opposition must assess them fairly, criticise as necessary and support as appropriate. This newspaper denies none of its concerns about Zuma’s ascent, but respects the will and judgment of the majority. We will monitor the new government with the same rigorous scrutiny that has underpinned all our reporting and analysis.”

And: is Jacob Zuma Mr. X?