Africa

Viewpoints

South Africa's Presidential Election

South Africa's ruling party leader Jacob Zuma speaks to 2,000 cheering supporters at the African National Congress party headquarters on April 23. (Photo: Alexander Joe / AFP-Getty Images)

China — China View (April 18): South Africa's African National Congress (A.N.C.) has spent no less than $20 million on its 2009 election campaign, the party said on Saturday. A.N.C. national executive council member, Nomvula Mokonyane, said most of the money used in the campaign had been raised by the party through selling paraphernalia for example. She was speaking at a briefing ahead of the party's final election rally to be held on Sunday at Coca Cola Park and the Johannesburg Stadium. The rally would "set a precedent" for large-scale events with 400,000 people in total expected to view the event at the two stadiums and via a live satellite link at stadiums in the other eight provinces.

France — Euronews (April 24): Jacob Zuma must wait a little longer for the official declaration, but his supporters are already celebrating. The final votes are being counted in South Africa’s election, but the African National Congress is firmly on course for a landslide victory, with Zuma becoming the new President. 23 million people registered to vote, and around two-thirds of them backed Zuma, possibly giving the A.N.C. enough of a majority in parliament to change the constitution if it wants. The prospect worries some, but the party insists it will not abuse its dominant position.

Iran — PressTV (April 24): With over half of the ballots counted, the African National Congress led by Jacob Zuma has declared victory owing to a 67 lead in the polls that drew a record 77 percent of the 23 million eligible electorate to vote Zuma in as the fourth South African president since the collapse of the white-dominant authoritarian apartheid in 1994. ... The 67-year-old leader of Zulu origin who took over the A.N.C. leadership from former President Thabo Mbeki in 2007 is expected to replace the interim President Kgalema Petrus Motlanthe.

Kenya — Daily Nation (April 22): With the expectations of many ordinary South Africans soaring, after what they claim to have been a decade of alienation by the Mbeki administration, the next government will be hard-pressed to guard against consigning this critical constituency to the confines of disillusionment. A master of real politic, Zuma, while addressing international journalists in Johannesburg on the eve of the election, seemed to be taking cognizance that some things are easier promised than done. He told his compatriots not to expect miracles... there will certainly be some gaps in service delivery in Africa's largest economy, especially courtesy of the global economic meltdown.

Mauritius — AllAfrica (April 20): It is not going to be up to Zuma himself to fix the education system or face the global economic crisis. But it will be his job to encourage people to see the sense (or the balance, if you like) in how those problems will be fixed, or at least addressed. It is his job to ensure that citizens understand why government is doing what it is doing, which is partly the reason why good communicators often make good leaders. But there is another reason why this trio of issues is so important now; because they are the three areas where S.A. has gone backwards most propitiously.

Qatar — Al Jazeera (April 21): The majority of Zuma's bad press has followed his acquittal on rape charges in 2006, the ousting of his rival Thabo Mbeki as president last year and the dropping of corruption charges against him in April 2009. However, Zuma continues to fight back, for instance, by suing South Africa's Sunday Times for $780,000 for publishing a cartoon of him preparing to rape a figurative Lady Justice. The media executive quoted earlier, says politicians' attempts to protect their reputations have now gone too far, with the ANC trying to use legislation to control the media.

Scotland — The Scotsman (April 24): South Africa's long-dominant governing party was leaving its opponents in national elections far behind today, and the only matter to be decided was the margin of victory. If Jacob Zuma's African National Congress fails to achieve the almost 70 per cent that it took in 2004, it will be seen as a message from voters that they want to see some limits on the party. A two-thirds majority allows the A.N.C. to enact major laws unchallenged

United Kingdom — BBC News (April 24): Mr. Zuma, a populist who spent 10 years in prison during the apartheid era for A.N.C. membership, faces challenges including a struggling economy and soaring violent crime. Charges of corruption against the 67-year old were dropped just two weeks before the poll after state prosecutors said there had been political interference in the case. ... Mr. Zuma is also a skilled conciliator, credited with ending the political violence in KwaZulu-Natal and helping to bring peace to Burundi.

United Kingdom — The Guardian (April 20): In a story that rivals anything the American dream has to offer, the Zulu herd boy from one of the country's poorest provinces is about to become the most powerful man in Africa. He has done it after serving his time in the liberation struggle and on Robben island. He has proved a resilient political fighter who, floored by fraud and corruption claims and a charge of rape, kept picking himself up off the canvas to finally outmaneuver his rivals. Unlike the scholarly and aloof Thabo Mbeki, who habitually quoted Shakespeare or phrases in Latin, Zuma can dance. He is charming and charismatic and comfortable in his own skin.

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