South Africa’s governing ANC promises ‘better life’ at manifesto launch

By Thomson Reuters Feb 24, 2024 | 7:31 AM

DURBAN (Reuters) – South Africa’s Cyril Ramaphosa said on Saturday that his party, the African National Congress(ANC), would build on the successes of the last three decades and work to resolve the country’s challenges of high unemployment, crime and poverty should it win decisively at the polls.

Ramaphosa outlined his party’s six priority areas at its elections manifesto launch in Durban, a coastal city in the eastern province of KwaZulu-Natal.

Recent polls suggest the ANC is at risk of losing its parliamentary majority in the May 29 election for the first time since Nelson Mandela led the country through its first democratic elections at the fall of apartheid 30 years ago.

“We cannot take all this progress for granted, we need to do more and better together” Ramaphosa told over 75,000 members and supporters gathered at a stadium.

Ramaphosa,71, is seeking a second term as president but he faces many hurdles.

The last 15 years of the ANC-led government have been characterised by low growth, rising unemployment and leadership bedevilled with corruption scandals.

Africa’s most industrialised economy has barely expanded in more than a decade, with growth averaging 0.8% since 2012.

After winning the first term on a ticket of renewal and recovery, following the removal of Jacob Zuma in 2018, Ramaphosa has struggled to deliver meaningful improvements on crime, corruption and economic growth.

Under his watch, unemployment increased to 32.1% in the fourth quarter of 2023, from 29.1% four years earlier, during his first year in office.

In addition, the country has experienced increasingly severe blackouts as the ailing state-owned power utility, Eskom, struggles to maintain its ageing coal-fired fleet.

Ramaphosa outlined his party’s achievements of the last three decades, highlighting the country’s progressive constitution, and work towards a non-racial, non-sexist and democratic society as positive milestones.

Among ANC’s election priorities is an employment programme to tackle unemployment, leveraging industries to boost economic growth, and tackling the high cost of living through improved access to subsidised basic services.

South Africans have become disillusioned with the party and Ramaphosa acknowledged it had made “missteps.”

He said that should ANC win decisively at the polls, newly elected leaders would undergo a rigorous vetting process.

(Reporting by Kopano Gumbi; Editing by Tomasz Janowski)