Historic Shift: ANC Loses Grip on Majority in South African Parliament for First Time in Three Decades

In a historic turn of events, South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) has fallen short of a parliamentary majority for the first time in three decades, following the national elections held on May 29, 2024. With 99.9% of the votes counted, the ANC secured 40.21% of the vote, a significant drop from the 57.5% it achieved in 2019. This unprecedented decline marks a pivotal moment in the country’s political landscape, indicating a shift in voter sentiment and the emergence of a more competitive multi-party democracy.

The Democratic Alliance (DA), the official opposition, maintained its stronghold with 21.77% of the vote. However, the real surprise came from former President Jacob Zuma’s newly formed uMkhonto weSizwe party, which garnered 14.60%, pushing the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to fourth place with 9.51%. The voter turnout was 58.59%, with over 27 million registered voters out of a population of approximately 62 million.

This election has shattered the ANC’s long-standing dominance, which had consistently secured more than 60% of the vote in all national elections since the end of apartheid in 1994, except in 2019 when it dipped to 57.5%. The ANC’s decline reflects growing public dissatisfaction over issues such as corruption, economic mismanagement, and high unemployment rates. These factors have eroded the party’s traditional support base, compelling voters to explore alternative political options.

The uMkhonto weSizwe’s impressive performance highlights a desire among some voters for a return to what they perceive as the ANC’s revolutionary roots, while the DA’s steady support underscores its appeal among those seeking a centrist, market-friendly approach. Meanwhile, the EFF’s reduced share points to shifting dynamics on the far-left spectrum of South African politics.

With no party achieving an outright majority, South Africa faces the prospect of coalition government for the first time at the national level. The ANC will need to negotiate alliances to form a stable administration, a scenario that introduces a new era of political negotiation and compromise. These developments signal a transformative period for South African democracy, one that may lead to more diverse and representative governance.

As the political landscape evolves, the ability of South Africa’s leaders to collaborate across party lines will be crucial in addressing the nation’s pressing challenges and fostering a more inclusive and effective government.

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