Was South Africa's economy better under apartheid

Local elections in South Africa : "We were better off under apartheid"

Burning car tires, looting and 14 murdered politicians - it's elections in South Africa. On Wednesday, the residents of the Cape Republic elected new local governments for their cities and countless villages. The final result is expected on Friday at the earliest. In the run-up to the polls, there were protests across the country, some of them violent, against politicians who, despite being relatively unknown, were sent into the race by the parties.

The representatives at the local level are responsible, among other things, for the supply of water and electricity or the financing of schools - all necessities with which South Africa is still wrestling 22 years after the end of apartheid. Life in South Africa remains determined by serious income inequalities. Rich political leaders contribute to the dissatisfaction, so that some representatives of the black population would even exchange their self-determination for a functioning basic service: "We shot ourselves in the foot when we overthrew the apartheid government," says Wele Ntshongola, mayor of Tsholomnqa in the Eastern Cape Province. Unlike today, his village had tarred roads before the democratic change in 1994, workers were paid to maintain them and on top of that there was free seed and fertilizer. "I do not support the apartheid laws at all, but at least we were looked after at the time."

Nobody knows the names of the parliamentarians responsible

Disappointed hopes also in the township of Roshnee near Johannesburg. "We gave up asking the government for any favors," said one resident. Instead, the community of predominantly Indian-born South Africans took matters into their own hands. A neighborhood guard replaced the absent police. Volunteers fill the potholes or provide service in the self-built clinic, which treats 200 sick people every day. Nobody knows the name of the MP who is responsible for them.

22 years after Nelson Mandela was sworn in, the ruling party is still the African National Congress (ANC) - it controls all nine provinces of the country and most of the cities in it except for the Western Cape (Cape Town). The former liberation movement enjoys great support, especially in rural regions. “It makes no sense to change parties,” says the unemployed Elaine Cloete in the run-down mining town of Nababeep. Although the toilet that the ANC promised her five years ago was never installed, she plans to vote for him on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, a completely different picture emerges in South Africa's cities. They are seen as centers of change. For the first time, the opposition has a fair chance of capturing metropolises like Pretoria or Port Elizabeth. The townspeople are hardly impressed by threats such as recently made by President Jacob Zuma: Those who leave the ANC are punished by their ancestors and are persecuted by bad luck, says the head of state.

The opposition is forming to the left and right of the ANC

Athol Trollip, candidate of the largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Eastern Cape, says: "If you bring the key metropolises under your control, you will become an alternative government in the state." The ANC is challenged by two opposition parties: The Democratic Alliance (DA), an economically liberal party originally of the whites, but which has recently been gaining popularity among blacks from the middle class. In 2015 she elected a black man as chairman for the first time, the 36-year-old charismatic Mmusi Maimane.

To the left of the ANC, the former head of the ANC youth, Julius Malema, founded the “Economic Freedom Fighters” (EFF). Its 35-year-old leader Julius Malema calls for the expropriation of white farmers and the replacement of the corrupt Zuma regime. He and his supporters dress in red guerrilla uniforms.

A bad result could save the ANC

The ANC is divided. In recent weeks, there have been numerous politically motivated homicides in which at least 14 regional politicians have died. The majority are said to have been internal party power struggles. "It is likely that the violence will continue after election day, especially if the ANC loses some of the major districts," warns political expert Andre Duvenhage.

However, a poor performance could ensure the ANC's survival, analyzes the Institute for Security Studies, a respected think tank in Pretoria. According to her, “traditionalists” and “reformers” fought for supremacy in the ANC: rural, black-nationalist supporters of President Zuma against an urban, multi-ethnic and enlightened generation. An election defeat for the ANC could give reformers a boost and, as a result, the future of South Africa.

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