South Africa

South Africa’s Chance for Change

from The Wall Street Journal,

After years of misrule, the unpopular African National Congress may have to share power after this week’s election.

South African politics have been dominated by the African National Congress since the end of apartheid in 1994. But with national elections on Wednesday, the polls suggest the ANC’s ill-governance has imperiled its lock on power. Fewer than a third of South Africans approve of the country’s leadership, according to Gallup.

It’s easy to see why. Punitive taxation, overregulation and weak property rights have stifled economic growth. Unemployment was 32.9% in the first quarter of 2024, and among those ages 15 to 34 it was 45.5%. Nearly two-thirds of South Africans say corruption has worsened in the past year. South Africa’s energy infrastructure is aging and mismanaged, and the state-owned utility Eskom had to schedule blackouts on 280 days in fiscal 2022-23. The ANC blundered this month when President Cyril Ramaphosa signed a law that aims to phase out private healthcare. The promise is universal coverage, but middle-class voters who fear being pushed into the decrepit public healthcare system may cast their vote for the center-right Democratic Alliance party. Supporters of former President Jacob Zuma, who was barred by the constitutional court from running this year, might back his new uMkhonto weSizwe party.

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