Society - Southern Africa - South africa - Governance
S. Africa votes but is it slipping into the African curse?
Bishop Mvume Dandala sends strong warning
A South African presidential candidate has warned that his country risks being a one-party state, a system that has ruined many African countries.

Bishop Mvume Dandala, presidential candidate of the new Congress of the People (COPE) party, a breakaway party from ANC is quoted “Those parties that have been leading the liberation struggle have very often become the sole parties that lead the people, without any of the meaningful opposition that makes a democracy. “In most instances, they virtually turn into dictators. We are beginning to see something of that here in South Africa.” he said.

South African’s go to the polls next Wednesday and ANC’s Jacob Zuma is tipped to win by a landslide. However, thousands of non-residents South Africans voted yesterday all over the world with some reports claiming that most people who waited up to two hours to cast their vote in London disapprove of the ANC.

Opposition parties such as the Congress of the People are likely to fare well among the tiny number of educated expatriate voters. Others praised senior ANC figures such as finance minister Trevor Manuel but said their respect was tempered by the prospect of populist party leader Zuma becoming president of Africa’s biggest economy after the April 22 vote.

South Africans living across the globe were awarded the right to participate in the 2009 election after a Constitutional Court ruling last month. About 16 240 voters intended casting their votes at the 124 South African missions abroad.

London had the highest number of registered overseas voters with 7 427. The second largest overseas polling station was in Canberra, Australia, with 1 235 registered voters, then Dubai in the United Arab Emirates with 900 registered and Wellington, New Zealand with 410.

Despite facing its toughest challenge since the first post-apartheid elections in 1994, the African National Congress (ANC) expects to win the two-thirds majority that would give it the power to change the constitution if it wanted.

This month’s decision by prosecutors to drop graft charges against Zuma on a technicality gave added ammunition to critics who say the ANC has a dangerous grip on nearly every aspect of public life, including the civil service and judiciary. Zuma has maintained his innocence and said the charges were a political plot to prevent him becoming president.

COPE was formed by disgruntled senior members of the ANC in December after the party pushed Zuma’s rival, Thabo Mbeki, out of the presidency.

Analysts said at the time COPE might eat into the ANC’s political dominance, which is based on the respect it still commands for its long fight against white-minority rule.

COPE and other opposition groups hope to tap into rising public anger over corruption, poor services, poverty and crime, as well as concerns about a looming recession, but there is little sign of the ANC losing its hold.


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