The final results from the just ended South African polls, shows that Cyril Ramaphosa’s African National Congress got 57.51% (230 seats) down from 249. Close rival the Democratic Alliance bagged 20.76% (83 seats) down from 89 it garnered in the last elections.
The only significant climber the Economic Freedom Fighters got 10.79% (43 seats) up from 25.
The results mean the ANC lost 19 Seats, DA 6 seats while the EFF gained 18 seats, though with a reduced majority as compared to the previous elections, ANC got the mandate to run the affairs of the country.
However, for many, the concern is how the country under ANC rule is fast becoming a pale shade of its former self, a fading picture, or a withered petal, whichever way one prefers to call it. Ramaphosa has or is failing to shake off former President Jacob Zuma’s ghost.
When Zuma fell he left a trail of destruction, he handed Ramaphosa a dying nation, bruised by corruption, and characterised by state capture. And now the wheels are visibly coming off.
While some may think Zuma is now water under the bridge, the major worry is not Zuma, the person, but the system he left behind. Zuma just like former Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe, left behind a lethal system intact. They left jackets in oval offices they once occupied.
And the major worry is that the men who succeeded both Zuma and Mugabe are not willing or have failed to dismantle the systems left behind by their predecessors. Cyril Ramaphosa and his Zimbabwean counterpart Emmerson Mnangagwa are just as good as Zuma and Mugabe in different suits.
Flashback, for many, SA used to be the Europe for Africa, for years, it has been a heaven for economic refugees from other African countries, Zimbabweans included who had joined the great trek in search for greener pastures.
However, Ramaphosa who inherited a dying economy has shown signs of failure, he has failed to tame corruption, is struggling to revive the economically sick country he inherited, lawlessness has continued under his captaincy, and unemployment is rising. This has caused xenophobia in recent years, as native South Africans blame foreigners of taking jobs at the expense of the nationals.
The man has just been handed another five more years at the helm though with a reduced majority, which points out how some of those who voted for the party in the last election have lost confidence in it.
It however good to note the peaceful environment during the polls and South Africans should be commended for that. The voting and counting of ballots went smoothly, though the polls were marred by allegations of vote rigging.
The voting have now come and gone and winners as well as losers have been pronounced.
For South Africans, and the whole continent in particular, it is now a case of renewed hope, with political will, the country has not gone bad beyond redemption. There is still room to salvage something.
The country now needs to bank on the strength of its institutions, some of them though captured, still have leeways of little independence, the Zondo Commission for instance, has of late been working flat out to expose the extent of state capture and corruption.
Strong institutions are a vital cog for democracy in that they hold the executive accountable.
The other force that could help the South African redemption course is it unyielding fourth estate ‘the media.’ SA is indeed indebted to its courageous journalists. Thanks to the government for not being that draconian and antagonistic towards the fourth arm of the state, and for opening the media space to allow media plurality and diversity.
South Africa has open airwaves and accommodative media laws. This has enabled journalists to carry out their mandate with a little more freedom.
Many thanks also goes to the media itself, for being ethical, fair, for being patriotic, and responsible by admitting its shortcomings and offer public apology when they get it wrong. The notable example is the the Sunday Times apologising for getting the facts wrong, responsible reporting is critical in promoting a functioning democracy.
As the country was slowly becoming a case of fading hope, a country at risk of becoming a replica of Zimbabwe in terms of economic failure, the South African media has been vocal warning on the dangers of the course being taken.
As noted, had it not been for a formidable media, South Africans would not have known of the extent of the state capture, or how deep and ugly was corruption eating into its economy, as once said by the German Ambassador to SA Martin Schafer.
Schafer praised the Sunday Times for being patriotic and for owning up when it made mistakes;
“To be honest, I think it would be rare in my country for an editor of such a large and well-respected publication to publicly admit it has been wrong,” he said.
South Africa’s strong media, has been noted as one of the pillars that would help the country to retrace its footprints to the lost glory. Like any other place in the world, the media has a duty in setting agendas in national development discourses. Now that the elections have come and gone, it is now time for unity of purpose, truthful, and working together, promoting good deeds and condemning destructive tendencies.