Support for South Africa re-elected ANC contingent on promised social and economic reforms

Support for South Africa re-elected ANC contingent on promised social and economic reforms

South African president-elect Cyril Ramaphosa will be sworn into office today in Pretoria. The African National Congress won South Africa’s

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Photo: Reuters

South African president-elect Cyril Ramaphosa will be sworn into office today in Pretoria.

The African National Congress won South Africa’s May 8 general election, enabling the party to pick the country’s next president. Lawmakers duly elected Mr Ramaphosa, the party leader, without contest on Wednesday.

On the campaign trail, Ramaphosa promised jobs for all. Yet confidence in the governing capacity of the ANC has sunk to an all-time low, reflecting widespread anger over the corruption and cronyism of Mr Ramaphosa’s predecessor Jacob Zuma. In the general election the ANC’s share of the vote fell to an all-time post-apartheid low of about 57%, or 230 of 400 seats in South Africa’s National Assembly.

The low numbers testify to the disillusionment of many South Africans. It will be up to the president-elect to restore faith in the ANC’s capacity to govern. Doing so will require Mr Ramaphosa to deliver on his promises, such as land reform.

About 72% of South Africa’s arable land remains in the hands of whites, which account for fewer than 10% of the total population. Mr Ramaphosa has proposed a constitutional amendment that would allow the government to expropriate “unused” public land to redistribute it to black farmers.

Yet as with many of the president-elect’s promises, land reform faces significant challenges, such as potentially slow and cumbersome legal processes, local government opposition, and reliance on the so-called willing-buyer/willing-seller approach.

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