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South Africa vote: How ANC lost its way with infighting and scandal

An array of election posters from various political parties are displayed on poles in Pretoria, South Africa, Thursday, May 16, 2024   -  
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Themba Hadebe/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

South Africa

For years, the African National Congress rose above politics in South Africa.

It was a movement dedicated to freeing Black people from the oppression of white minority rule and to the lofty principle of democracy, equality and a better life for all South Africans.

It was widely revered as a force for good under Nelson Mandela, who spent 27 years in prison for his opposition to the apartheid system of racial segregation.

But 30 years after the ANC transformed from a liberation organization to a political party in government, it faces growing dissatisfaction from South Africans who feel it has failed to live up to its promises.

“I won't take part in voting because honestly speaking whether I vote or not, I feel like the same party will still win,” said Mzwandile Nkosi, a former ANC supporter.

Former South African President Jacob Zuma returned to politics late last year with a new party and renewed his fierce criticism of the ANC and current President Cyril Ramaphosa, who replaced him as both party leader and president.

Zuma once led South Africa's ruling African National Congress party but was forced out as its leader in 2017 and resigned as president in 2018 under a cloud of corruption allegations.

"The ruling party has failed to satisfy our needs... The reason why we joined the MK party is because we want to fix it. The ANC has failed," said Nokuthula Hlomuka, a supporter of Zuma’s new party, uMkhonto weSizwe.

But Zuma was disqualified on Monday from running for a Parliament seat because of a previous criminal conviction.

The decision by the country's highest court is certain to raise political tensions ahead of election day on May 29.

Next week's election could be South Africa's most important in 30 years, with the beleaguered ANC facing the biggest challenge to its long rule since the end of the apartheid system of white minority rule in 1994.

The ANC is struggling to hold onto its parliamentary majority, and the election might force it into a national coalition government.

That would be the country's biggest political shift since apartheid was dismantled with the first all-race elections.

South Africa has had credible, peaceful elections since it became a democracy in 1994.

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