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Following 2014 Elections, 'Race' Emerges as Fundamental Fault Line In South African Society

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Published on May 29, 2014

Following the ANC's robust win at the polls in South Africa's 2014 General Elections, on 22 May 2014, SACSIS and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation hosted a panel discussion under the banner: "Will the ANC rule until Jesus returns?"

The primary impetus for this question is the fact that the ANC won the General Election this year, despite its leader being tarnished by major corruption scandals and the party's service delivery record being less than exemplary. Meanwhile South Africa's inequality too has worsened under the ANC's rule. So what is the ANC's secret? How does it manage to stay in power despite its poor track record?

Renate Tenbusch, resident director of the Friedrich Ebert South Africa Office (FES) opened the event. Her introductory remarks gave speakers and the audience much to think about in terms of the challenge of advancing a social democratic vision under current conditions.

The stellar panel of speakers responded to a set of questions posed by Fazila Farouk, executive director of SACSIS.

* What do the results of the 2014 General Elections say about the quality of South Africa's democracy?

* Do identity politics play a role in the way that South Africans vote?

* President Zuma's first term in office was tainted by corruption scandals and an authoritarian state, what can we expect from the Zuma presidency in his second term?

* Team Zuma is likely emboldened by the ANC's 62% win at the polls. How will this affect the fractured politics of the tripartite alliance and the fragile truce inside Cosatu?

* Are we still likely to see political opposition coming from the left of the ANC in the form of a possible workers' party or has the opposition pendulum swung back to the right of the ruling party given the DA's strong showing in this election?

The panellists at this the event were, Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand; Jonny Steinberg, lecturer in African Studies at the University of Oxford; Nomboniso Gasa, researcher, analyst and public speaker on gender, politics, leadership and cultural issues; and Steven Friedman, Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Johannesburg.

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