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Independent candidate calls for change as South Africa prepares for elections

A man waits for a minibus taxi along a street lined with election posters in the Hammanskraal township, Pretoria, South Africa, Wednesday, May 22, 2024.   -  
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Denis Farrell/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

South Africa

As South Africa gears up for elections on May 29, one independent candidate is calling for profound change in the country’s politics.

“There is literally no South African who needs to be convinced why we need to change. There isn't, not one,” Anele Mda told the Associated Press on Thursday.

Mda did not mince her words when she outlined what South African voters would be signing up for when electing candidates to parliament in the upcoming vote.

“A person who's voting the ANC (ruling African National Congress party), it's a person who is an accomplice, who has taken a stand of declaring themselves an accomplice to the rot that is happening,” she said.

Mda mentioned the allegations against ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa who was accused of hiding as much as $4 million at his farm before it was stolen in 2020.

Ramaphosa was cleared of wrongdoing last year by a public watchdog over the scandal.

But Mda said it was a "travesty of justice".

“And they still have an opportunity to put him with his big face on and on posters and beg people to vote for such a corrupt, incorrigible man,” Mda said.

While South Africa is regarded one of Africa’s most advanced countries, its contradictions are stark.

Unemployment and poverty stand out as the most pressing issues for the majority of people.

The African National Congress, once led by Nelson Mandela, has been in power ever since the end of the apartheid system of white minority rule in 1994.

But poverty, failing government services in many places and a national unemployment rate of over 32% that all mainly affect the country's Black majority are seen as central to the ruling party's loss of support.

Recent polls show support for the ruling ANC under 50% — and one as low as 40% — suggesting that it may be in danger of losing its parliamentary majority for the first time when the country votes on Wednesday.

Seventy political parties are registered for the vote, the most ever, and independent candidates will be allowed to stand for the first time.

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