Promises, promises – main parties out of the blocks for election

LONDON — In a divided country, the starting gun has been fired for the next general election and if it looked rough up to now, it is about to go nuclear. We are not a country where politicians curry favour by kissing babies and shaking hands. The two main parties in the country, the ANC and the Democratic Alliance have both been plagued by infighting. The remnants of the Zuma faction are not taking the shift of power within their party towards Ramaphosa lying down; the sexual harassment allegations surfacing within the party in the last weeks is testimony to that. At stake is not only losing the keys to the nation’s coffers, but for many implicated in corruption, jail may be looming. The Democratic Alliance is in a similar state with prominent Cape Town leader Patricia de Lille leaving the party to form her own Good Party after months of infighting. The main test for Ramaphosa is whether former ANC supporters will return to the alliance. Overall support for the party slipped from 62% in the 2014 national elections to 54% in the local government elections in 2016. The EFF’s Julius Malema polling at 9% has openly stated that he wants to be kingmaker. What can the business world hope for? – Linda van Tilburg

By Amogelang Mbatha and Mike Cohen

(Bloomberg) – South Africa is gearing up for elections on May 8 that will serve as a referendum on whether the African National Congress has rehabilitated itself in the eyes of voters after former leader Jacob Zuma’s scandal-marred rule.

The ruling party’s two main challengers are the pro-business Democratic Alliance and the populist Economic Freedom Fighters, which favours the nationalisation of mines, banks and land.

The ANC, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, aims to build on the 62 percent majority it won in the last national elections in 2014. The DA wants to boost its share of the vote to 30 percent, from 22 percent, and wrest control of the Gauteng and Northern Cape provinces from the ANC. The EFF is positioning itself as king-maker in provinces where there’s no clear winner, a role it played after 2016 municipal elections that saw the ANC lose control of several key cities. Polls show that both the ANC and the DA are likely to be disappointed.

These are some of the main campaign issues and how the parties plan to tackle them:

Fighting corruption

The ANC says its commitment to tackling graft is evidenced by the establishment of a commission to probe allegations that Zuma’s allies looted state departments and companies, the appointment of a new chief prosecutor and the creation of a judicial tribunal to speed up the return of stolen money. It plans to ensure there is greater transparency in the awarding of state tenders, and wants to strengthen parliament’s oversight role and crack down on private companies that engage in illegal practices.

The DA plans to establish a new anti-corruption unit within the National Prosecuting Authority to investigate politicians and government officials implicated in wrongdoing. It also wants parliament, rather than the president, to appoint the chief prosecutor and to subject all prosecutors to annual performance assessments. It proposes imposing minimum 15-year jail sentences on state employees who are convicted of embezzling more than R10,000 ($721).

The EFF favours amending the constitution to make the National Prosecuting Authority accountable to parliament, rather than the government, to guarantee its independence. Public representatives and state workers who are convicted of corruption should serve minimum 20-year jail sentences and forfeit their pensions and savings.

Land reform

The ANC has pledged to change the constitution to accelerate the expropriation of land without compensation to address racially skewed ownership patterns dating back to apartheid and colonial rule. Food security and economic development won’t be undermined by land seizures, the party says.

The DA says it will protect property rights, while instituting a land-reform program that increases access to ownership, creates jobs and grows the economy. The constitution should be left unchanged, it says.

The EFF wants all land to be placed under state custodianship and equitably redistributed along demographically representative racial lines. Foreigners should be barred from owning land in South Africa, while rentals on all residential property should be scrapped, the party says.

Creating jobs

The ANC has pledged to create 275,000 new jobs annually over the next five years by boosting local demand and exports. It aims to attract R1.2trn in investment over four years and set up an infrastructure fund to build rail links, roads, hospitals, schools and dams.

The DA says that at least one person per household should have a job. It plans to promote employment by growing the economy, ensuring greater regulatory certainty, cutting red tape for small business and guaranteeing a reliable power supply.

The EFF plans to create special economic zones to lure investment, with tax breaks for companies employing at least 2,000 people. It also wants 80% of goods procured by the government and state companies to be locally produced and at least half of the country’s mineral resources to be locally processed.

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