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 Post Posted: Mon Mar 25, 2019 12:42 am 
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So... we have elections coming up in about a month and a half (8 May). This could be an important one.

Major players:

The elephant in the room is the ANC. This party's been pulling well over 50% of the vote ever since Mandela was in charge of it - a lot of voters are well aware that they only have the vote thanks to the work of said Mr. Mandela and his contemporaries, and thus keep their vote with the party out of loyalty to the cause that was. However, lately the party has had a few problems with internal corruption (for eight-and-a-bit years it was headed up by Jacob Zuma, who carefully dismantled every single anti-corruption agency he could so that he could be corrupt; and in the process created an environment in which other corrupt politicians could and did flourish). Recently Zuma was ousted (barely) in an internal ANC election in favour of his vice-president, Cyril Ramaphosa, who has been rebuilding the anti-corruption agencies and running enquiries into corruption. However, their election list for the upcoming elections contains a number of politicians who are pretty well known to be corrupt (but haven't actually been convicted yet), which implies that Ramaphosa's anti-corruption stance might not be all that strong (which probably has to do with the fact that he's only got the support of marginally over half the party). Under their stewardship, the trains most certainly do not run on time. I expect that the ANC will get somewhere between 40% and 60% of the vote (indubitably down from their current 62% level, the only question is how far down); the really important question is whether or not they break the 50% mark this time.

The second-biggest party in the running is the DA. They've been snapping at the ANC's tail for a while now; while the ANC feels like a relaxed fat cat resting on his laurels, the DA feels more like a high-powered lawyer in a smart suit. For some time now, they've been winning provincial elections in a single province (the Western Cape), and they're always at pains to point out how much more well-run the Western Cape is than the various ANC-controlled provinces (despite the fact that the ANC-controlled national government is more inclined to help out ANC-controlled provinces, for obvious reasons). They can be expected to take any legal action against the ANC that they can reasonably take (they tried to get Zuma in court to face corruption charges through most of his presidency). I expect that they will take 20%-40% of the vote; if the ANC doesn't break the 50% mark, then I expect that the DA will put a lot of effort into forming a coalition government with anyone who isn't the ANC just so they can show how much better things can be without the ANC before the next elections.

The third-biggest party about is the EFF. These are loud demagogues with populist but poorly thought-out policies. (Their major policy involves the government taking land away from people and giving it to (yelled in a loud voice) "US THE PEOPLE", without ever mentioning whether that category includes the people who voted for him or whether it's limited to people with political connections, which I rather suspect it will be) Their leader used to be a loyal member of the ANC until the ANC threw him out (mainly for being a bit of an idiot), and presumably expected him to retire peacefully out of the way somewhere. Instead of retiring, he made a dramatic comeback at the head of a new party, and started winning votes through mainly theatrics and yelling. Amazingly enough, they actually do have a following; and a number of the people becoming disillusioned with the ANC may well turn their vote here. They yelled against Zuma a lot, but have been much more conciliatory to the ANC now that Ramaphosa's in charge of it. I expect them to get 10%-20% of the vote; if the ANC doesn't make 50% of the vote, then I expect the EFF to sit smugly on the fact that they can choose to vote either with or against the ANC and leverage this fact to try and force in their troublesome land reform policies.

Then there are the smaller parties, of which we have quite a number. Many are likely willing to form coalitions if certain compromises are made in their favour; their power outside of coalitions is likely to be negligible.

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 Post Posted: Sat Apr 06, 2019 5:20 am 
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Well, the campaigns are now in full swing.

By and large, everyone's in agreement on what the problems are; the big one is that Zuma and his good friends the Gupta brothers left the country with vast amounts of cash (and the Guptas are making sure to stay well away from anywhere that has an extradition treaty with us at the moment, too) and that in turn left various state-owned enterprises with crippling debt and cash-flow problems. (And that, in turn, leads to aggressive cost-cutting measures, which led to other problems...)

The ANC promises to fix all the problems that it caused. The DA politely points out that while the ANC may have a new leader, he's the guy who was the deputy leader when the problems started and he's leading the same people as Zuma led, so how much change can we really expect from them? The EFF seems to believe that everything can be solved with a really aggressive land redistribution policy.

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 Post Posted: Fri May 03, 2019 6:23 am 
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Less than a week to go.

There have been more revelations of ANC politicians being involved in bribery and corruption; the Zondo Commission is going to keep hearing evidence until well after these elections.

There have also been a number of polls, to try to estimate the results of the vote in advance; the results, at the moment, are sitting at too close to call according to the latest polls. (A very recent poll predicts the ANC getting 49.5% of the national vote, and has classed 0.9% under "don't know". That is ridiculously close). The polls are all agreed on the ANC getting the lion's share of the vote, as it almost certainly will; but that crucial 50% mark will have a dramatic effect on the government going forward.

It makes the difference between the ANC being able to more or less put what they want through Parliament if it requires no more than a simple majority, or the ANC needing to get at least some support from someone else to get anything done...

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 Post Posted: Sat May 11, 2019 8:17 am 
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Well, the election is over, and the results have been counted. The official announcement hasn't been made yet, but since the counted figures are publicly available (e.g. in the above link), that's just a formality at this point.

Nationally, the ANC did lose a chunk of votes. In this case, "losing a chunk" means dropping from 62% of the national vote down to 57%; undeniably significant, but they're still in power.

And already, there are those in the ANC who are loudly insisting that their party retaining control had nothing to do with Ramaphosa having replaced Zuma; specifically, a fellow by the name of Ace Magashule who retains a lot of political power despite a number of allegations that he's been pretty corrupt as well. (The corruption was never limited to only Zuma, unfortunately).

The DA, the party that generally comes second in these elections, continued to come second, with a hardly-changed percentage of votes, coming in at a smidge over 20%; though the EFF, the loud populist "redistribute-land-without-compensation" party experienced a significant increase in support, going up to just over 10%. And another party that jumped up a bit in the rankings is the Freedom Front (which is almost diametrically opposed to the EFF; they're big on ending all possible forms of affirmative action, or at least all possible forms that advantage the majority population group).

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As far as provincial elections go, all provinces had no change in the identity of the party with majority control; that is, the DA once again won the Western Cape while the ANC won everywhere else. But in several provinces, the identity of the second place changed; the EFF is now the official opposition in three provinces. One hopes that this will encourage them to do more than be loud and disruptive in Parliament.

And the ANC vote in all provinces has dropped in all provinces, sometimes quite significantly - up to a ten percent drop in some provinces. (It says something that there are still provinces where they could take another ten percent drop and retain their majority). Interestingly, in the Gauteng province - a fairly small province but one with a number of major cities, making it the most economically powerful province - the ANC's majority has dropped to a mere smidge over 50% (50.19%, to be more exact). It's clear that they're going to have to work pretty hard to retain control over that province when the next election arrives...

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Personally, I'm kind of disappointed, but not really all that surprised. The ANC does have an incredibly persistent core of voters, who I suspect vote for them mainly out of gratitude for having ended Apartheid back in 1994; and Ramaphosa has been working very hard to try to win back people's approval over the last several months. Let's see what he does now that his position is a bit more secure for the next five years.

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 Post Posted: Sun May 12, 2019 9:02 pm 
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If he keeps cleaning house then he'll probably be fine (assuming the ANC doesn't get tired of getting cleaned and oust him). Though I suppose it's not too surprising the ANC kept power; things aren't particularly dire down South Africa way from what I hear. If there's a significant downturn before the next election then it might be harder.

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 Post Posted: Mon May 13, 2019 5:08 am 
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A little over a year ago, just over half the ANC voted Ramaphosa in (ousting Zuma in the process). And since then, he's chipped away at some of the worst of the corrupt politicians (who would have chosen Zuma in sheer self-preservation).

The party's still kind of split in half; one half presumably wants to get rid of him (and all his anti-corruption reforms), the other half seems to realise that having anti-corruption reforms in place is preferable to being voted out entirely or, worse yet, ending up going the way of Zimbabwe. It's kind of hard to tell from the outside which half is which - and I imagine it might be kind of hard to tell from the inside as well, which is why there are Commisions of Inquiry to figure out who exactly has been on the take and how many takes there were to be on.

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As far as direness goes, well, there has been a strong effort to keep the direness as buried as possible. But let's consider the state of the national electricity supplier, Eskom. During the Zuma area, there were various people (the Gupta brothers being one group) who used various means to siphon money from the country, bribing politicians to keep the loopholes open. But that money had to come from somewhere, and that more or less meant all of the state-owned enterprises; including the electricity provider. To make a long story short, they siphoned out enough money that Eskom is in debt - big debt - and, on top of that, hasn't been building anywhere near enough in the way of new power stations to keep up with the growth in demand. So.

In short, then, Eskom needs to build extra power stations in order to continue providing electricity to the country. In order to do that, they need to pay for the power stations. In order to do that, they need to have money (and a new power station is not exactly pocket change). Which means that either they need to get given money (but all the spare cash has already been sucked out of the government) or they need to take out more loans, getting further in debt. Yet they're already struggling to keep up with the interest payments on the loans that they already have...

And Eskom is by no means the only state-owned enterprise in dire straits. Transnet (trains) and South African Airways (state-owned airline) seem to be facing similar troubles, for similar reasons - massive corruption has consequences, and those consequences don't go away when the corrupt people start getting pushed out. All that does is it stops things getting worse.

It should be possible to turn things around, but there's a fairly slim margin for error, and if the people in charge don't do exactly the right things we might be facing more than a few problems in the future...

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 Post Posted: Fri May 24, 2019 5:27 am 
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So it seems that a couple of the more... blatantly corrupt ministers from the ANC's election list have announced that they are withdrawing their names as potential MPs. (The ANC is not big on internal transparency; it seems likely that they were voluntold). And the deputy leader of the party - under a similar cloud - has similarly 'withdrawn' his candidature for deputy president of the party.

Things are looking hopeful and optimistic.

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Zuma's back in court, again. After dodging, ducking and diving the charges against him for a decade, he wants a permanent stay of prosecution - on the basis that ten years is way too long for a trial to take. (The prosecution, in response, is pointing out whose fault all the delays have been.)

It's a pretty bold legal strategy, but I don't see it working.

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