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Opposition leader hails era of ‘non-racial’ politics in S’Africa

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Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane

The voting pattern in South Africa is changing, according to leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA), Mmusi Maimane, whose party caused a major upset to the ruling African National Congress (ANC’s) in the recently held municipal elections.

The ruling ANC lost its majority in key states including the economic capital, Johannesburg; the symbolic Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane, the municipality that is home to the capital, Pretoria, to the Democratic Alliance (DA).

The losses are the biggest suffered by the ANC, which has ruled the country since the end of apartheid.
Now they can sit back and understand that they can’t just go out to voters and tell them because you are black you must vote for us, he said.

The ANC, which has long ridden on the back of its liberation struggle to end minority white rule in the rainbow nation, nonetheless, still has majority support across the country.

But Mmusi Maimane believes the results from the municipal elections indicate an end to the era of South Africans voting along racial lines, especially since his party is often described as one for wealthy white South Africans.

“Now they can sit back and understand that they can’t just go out to voters and tell them because you are black you must vote for us. They can’t go to voters and say, we will govern, as they’ve said, until Jesus comes back,” Maimane said.

For Maimane, the “debate for the people of South Africa” has moved on from race. “It is about governance models,” he said, adding that the ANC “can’t just sustain the argument that says they will always just have South African electorate, just because they are the ANC.”

The ANC’s campaign in the build up to the municipal election was focused on its contribution to ending the apartheid regime 22 years ago.

But that message it seems has lost its ability to swing voters to their fold, especially as ordinary South Africans have more pressing issues like youth unemployment, which is at 29 per cent. That aside, President Jacob Zuma has courted so much controversy personally which have rubbed off on the party, making it unappealing to many voters.


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