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

Former President Zuma won court bid to contest May polls, while delegitimisation campaign against election commission continued. 

Ahead of 29 May general elections, electoral court 9 April upheld uMkhonto weSizwe party (MKP) appeal in bid to keep its leader and former President Zuma on parliamentary candidate list, overturning Independent Electoral Commission (IEC)’s March objection to his running due to Zuma’s 2021 conviction for defying court order. IEC 14 April filed appeal with Constitutional Court and 29 April called for expedited police investigation into whether MKP forged registration signatures; Zuma and MKP continued to claim legal battles showed alleged electoral authority bias against former president, calling for lead commissioner’s resignation. Meanwhile, Zuma and allies continued delegitimisation campaign including alleging collusion between IEC and ruling African National Congress (ANC) to rig elections, while also claiming MKP would win two-thirds majority; President and ANC leader Ramaphosa and IEC – which despite these efforts retained widespread public trust – denied collusion accusations. Despite high level of political tensions, Zuma’s permission to run appeared to defuse concerns that unrest could be sparked by radical rhetoric employed by MKP members, with no apparent electoral-related violence reported during month; authorities 3 April charged MKP leader for inciting unrest through March inflammatory statements while party 10 April also demoted four youth leaders for using similar rhetoric. MKP 26 April said it had expelled five “rogue” members including co-founder Jabulani Khumalo as part of attempts to “cleanse itself”.

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