By Hassan Isilow
JOHANNESBURG (AA) – Millions of South Africans will be going to the polls on Wednesday to elect a new government that they hope will address high levels of corruption, unemployment, crime and poverty.
Nearly all political parties vying for this week's parliamentary and provincial seats have pledged to end corruption and reduce crime and unemployment which are major challenges in Africa's most industrialized economy.
“We will put an end to the corruption that has ruined our country and betrayed our people. Any politician or official found guilty will go to jail for 15 years,” Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Mmusi Maimane told a campaign rally in Johannesburg over the weekend.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), echoed this point of view.
“We are determined that those found guilty of corruption will not be allowed to occupy positions of responsibility,” Ramaphosa, who replaced scandal-tainted Jacob Zuma as president last year, told a campaign rally in Johannesburg, the nation’s largest city on Sunday.
Although several ANC leaders including former President Jacob Zuma have been accused of alleged corruption, the party is still leading in opinion polls. Some of its faithful supporters also believe it will self introspect and address corruption and other major challenges facing the country.
“We hope the ANC will revise the issue of carder deployment and patronage in a bid to tackle corruption. The party should consider appointing competent persons,” Fazel Suliman, chairman of the South African Muslim Network told Anadolu Agency in an interview on Monday.
Suliman believes the ANC, in power since 1994, will once again win this week’s election.
“I believe it’s only the ANC which can sort out the mess it has created. I hope the new administration will increase employment opportunities, fight crime and reduce poverty,’’ he said.
In a separate interview, political analyst Shadrack Gutto told Anadolu Agency that South Africans should be patient with whichever party that will assume office.
“South Africa has many challenges which include healthcare, housing and the economy is also not doing well. So no magic can be done to bring about changes quickly,” he said in an interview on Saturday.
- Crime, poverty, unemployment
Crime is a major challenge that affects South Africans from all social classes.
According to police crime statistics released last year, at least 57 people are murdered every day in the country, with 110 women reporting rape to the police.
“I want the new government to prioritize the fight against crime as we are not safe in this country. You can be attacked anywhere at any time, we are not even safe in our own homes,” 45-year-old Palesa Pretty, a hair salon owner in Johannesburg, told Anadolu Agency on Sunday.
Major political parties contesting the elections have all pledged to increase police training and fight crime which some people attribute to high levels of unemployment and poverty.
For its part, South Africa’s third largest political party, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) has pledged to expropriate land from mainly white owners to redistribute it to poor landless blacks.
Land is an emotive subject in South Africa where most of the natural resource is still owned by white nationals 25 years after the end of white minority rule.
The ruling ANC has also promised to intensify radical economic transformation, which includes the expropriation of land without compensation.
Last year, the South African parliament adopted a motion to amend the constitution so as to allow the expropriation of land without compensation. Many white nationals feel that this policy is unfair.
Professor Gutto believes once this policy is implemented, it could dissuade investors and exuberate the current slow economic growth in the country.
“If the expropriation of land is done unfairly without following due process then this policy will increase the current economic woes we are facing, ” he said.
A record 48 political parties are vying in Wednesday’s elections. The main contenders include, the ruling African National Congress (ANC), Democratic Alliance (DA), and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).