The long-awaited elections in South Africa, the fourth to be held since the country’s independence and the attainment of black majority rule in 1994, have come and gone and we commend South Africans for conducting these in a peaceful manner.
Now that the results have been announced, with the African National Congress once again getting another mandate from the people, we expect South Africa, which is SADC and Africa’s economic powerhouse, to take its rightful place and lead the region and continent towards economic emancipation. While in any election there are victors and losers, we expect the vanquished to accept the results as losing the poll does not mean the end of the world. The winners must be magnanimous in victory and there should be no room for vindictiveness.
We applaud the observer missions from SADC, the African Union, COMESA and SADC Parliamentary Forum for giving the elections a clean bill of health and urge the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa to take note of the electoral observer missions’ preliminary findings and take on board recommendations as this will further strengthen the country’s democratic processes going into the future.
Indeed, the entire SADC region was watching closely these polls which have a huge bearing not only on the country’s economy, but the entire region. It is no secret that South Africa is the SADC region’s largest economy and if it sneezes, the entire region catches a cold. This is why we now call upon the ANC government to tackle head on the electoral promises to the people of South Africa.
The end of the elections period should signal serious work that needs to be done to move the nation forward and bring it up-to-date with other community of nations in the SADC region and elsewhere across the continent in terms of economic development.
The government must address issues to do with economic empowerment and service delivery that led to a series of demonstrations in the townships in the country during the election campaign periods. It must also tackle head on hate speech and xenophobic attacks on foreigners, especially fellow Africans from neighbouring countries and further afield who are trying to eke an honest living in that country.
It should be noted that since replacing Jacob Zuma as President, Cyril Ramaphosa, who has vast experience in business, has been striking the right chords and making the right noises aimed at bringing economic development to the country. That the voters have given the ANC yet another mandate to run the affairs of the country means the people of South Africa are confident that the party and its leader will take them to the promised land.
We therefore expect the new ANC government to continue with the economic growth trajectory as well as up the fight against corruption and state capture. The people of South Africa keenly wait to see how Ramaphosa’s government will address not only the economic challenges, but also the huge gap between the rich and poor in the country, which is glaringly racial, a result of years of apartheid. The people need jobs, decent houses, and better amenities. They also keenly wait to see how the government will address the disparities in the ownership of land.
Serious work, therefore, must begin so as to address domestic as well as regional issues that will result in economic development of the people of South Africa and the SADC region.