Lessons from SA

09 May 2019 | Columns

Millions of South Africans voted in yet another landmark general election yesterday, and a poll that is considered as arguably the most crucial since the birth of democracy in the neighbouring country in 1994.

The South African vote follows a frantic campaigning period, which saw the ruling African National Congress (ANC) going all out to ensure a victory for its presidential hopeful Cyril Ramaphosa. The two main opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) of Julius Malema, have been a force to be reckoned with, and the focus now turns to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) as it tallies and announces the results. A total of 48 political parties, which is a new record by the way, contested yesterday's poll, according to the IEC. Voters cast their ballots for the parliamentarians of their choice, as well as for new provincial governments to be formed. There has also been a marked rise in the number of independent candidates participating. Complemented by a strong opposition, media and civic society that never shy away from holding the government of the day accountable, one cannot help but admire the multiparty democracy in South Africa. The state of affairs demonstrates the entrenched culture of brisk activism, which augurs well for a healthy democracy. Namibia, which is a slightly older democratic nation, can learn great lessons from our neighbours, particularly around strengthening multiparty democracy and successfully holding power to account. Key for the coming elections in the Land of the Brave will be positive signs that this is indeed happening in our body politic. We also watch with anticipation the unfolding build-up to the upcoming Ondangwa Urban constituency by-election, which has also seen an independent candidate squaring up against the ruling party and others. In the case of South Africa, where the ruling party has had the roughest of rides over state capture and service delivery blunders, among others, winds of change are blowing hard, in the interest of accountability and bringing an end to impunity.