Steenhuisen's Call to Arms: South Africa's Most Consequential Election Since 1994

John Steenhuisen, leader of the Democratic Alliance, urged South African voters to back his party in the upcoming election to prevent a 'doomsday' coalition with the ANC and radical parties. Emphasizing past achievements over promises, Steenhuisen aims to steer South Africa away from economic and social pitfalls.

Reuters | Updated: 26-05-2024 23:32 IST | Created: 26-05-2024 23:32 IST
Steenhuisen's Call to Arms: South Africa's Most Consequential Election Since 1994

The leader of South Africa's biggest opposition party urged voters to back his party in Wednesday's election to avoid a "doomsday" scenario of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) forming a coalition with radical parties. Democratic Alliance (DA) leader John Steenhuisen said the election would go down in history as the most consequential day for South Africa since the dawn of democracy in 1994.

Steenhuisen, whose party won the second-largest share of the vote in the last national and provincial elections in May 2019, urged supporters to use their pens to close the ANC chapter and write a new one when they cast their vote. "Unlike all other parties in this election, the DA doesn't make promises about what we will do one day. We show you the evidence of what we are already doing today," Steenhuisen told supporters at a cricket stadium in Benoni, east of Johannesburg.

Political parties are holding rallies on the final weekend before the national and provincial elections on May 29, in which polls expect the ANC to lose its parliamentary majority for the first time since liberation leader Nelson Mandela was voted into power in 1994 at the end of apartheid. The pro-business DA runs the provincial government of Western Cape, home to the popular tourist city of Cape Town.

Steenhuisen said there would be a dire outcome if the election resulted in a coalition between the ANC, the ultra-left Economic Freedom Fighters and the new uMkhonto WeSizwe, aligned with former president Jacob Zuma. "The NHI (National Health Insurance Bill) will be implemented, property will be expropriated without compensation, corruption will engulf us, and the economy will collapse," he said. "It will be Doomsday for South Africa."

LEGAL CHALLENGES The NHI Bill, signed by President Cyril Ramaphosa this month, aims to provide free universal health coverage, but faces legal challenges from different stakeholders including the DA.

The ANC has not disclosed its thinking on any non-majority scenario. Reflecting on the work of his administration which took office in 2019, Ramaphosa said in a televised address that when they took over, the country had endured a decade of corruption, weak economic growth and the erosion of public institutions.

"Today, we have put that era behind us. We have placed South Africa on a new trajectory of recovery and laid a strong foundation for future growth," he said, adding that his administration had taken significant steps to reform the economy and is tackling crime and corruption. Meanwhile the DA has formed a pact with some smaller parties to try to capture the more than 50% of the vote needed to form a government, including the Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party and ActionSA, a party led by a former mayor of Johannesburg, the country's economic hub.

One of the reasons for falling ANC support is voters switching to other parties, like Magdelena Pila, a former ANC supporter who has been supporting the DA for 10 years. "I support the DA because I've been tired of ... promises of the government of South Africa ... Just promises... (and) nothing ... I think DA will be maybe better," the 74-year old told Reuters at the rally. (Editing by Toby Chopra and David Holmes)

(This story has not been edited by Devdiscourse staff and is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)

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