South Africa

South Africa has emerged as a major power on the continent since the end of white minority rule in 1994. Its size, relative stability and the moral authority won through the long anti-apartheid struggle give it unusual weight in African and international diplomacy. Nonetheless, the ruling African National Congress has lost some of its lustre after a decade of economic mismanagement and corruption that has eroded much of the state’s infrastructure. The country has lately experienced severe unrest due largely to persistent crime, joblessness and inequality exacerbated by COVID-19 lockdowns. Through reporting and analysis, Crisis Group tracks indicators of social conflict in the country, advocating for economic reform, while pushing Pretoria to assume a bigger role on the regional stage.

CrisisWatch South Africa

Unchanged Situation

Political tensions increased ahead of May general elections, with continued electoral violence in KwaZulu-Natal province.

Ahead of May elections, tensions ran particular high between ruling African National Congress (ANC) and former President Zuma’s newly formed uMkhonto weSizwe party (MKP), predominately in key battleground KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) province. Amid inflammatory statements and rhetoric, electoral violence continued to plague build-up to polls; notably, in KZN capital Durban, unidentified gunmen 2 March killed MKP organiser in Umlazi township, while ANC accused MKP of being responsible for aggravating strike by municipal workers in eThekwini municipality; industrial action ran late Feb to mid-March and caused unrest and destruction of infrastructure, while on-duty municipal worker died after strikers allegedly attacked her. Also, ANC members 16 March clashed with members of opposition Inkhata Freedom Party (IFP) during cultural ceremony in KwaNongoma town, injuring sixteen. Election commission 28 March announced Zuma barred from being candidate in election due to 2021 conviction for defying court order, further raising political tensions. Amid polling suggesting ANC may get under 50% of vote nationally for first time since transition from apartheid system to democracy in 1994, deputy secretary general of party Nomvula Mokonyane 13 March said ANC not in talks over coalition.

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