JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said on Saturday that his African National Congress (ANC) party would be seeking a “decisive victory” in this year’s national elections, which are slated to be the most highly contested in the country’s democratic history.
Ramaphosa is looking to win a second term as president as Africa’s most industrialised country prepares to hold its closest poll for three decades.
Analysts say the ruling ANC is at risk of losing its parliamentary majority for the first time since Nelson Mandela’s victory in 1994 ushered in a new era of democracy following decades of apartheid rule.
“When they look at us and say the ANC is finished, when they look at us and say we are going to get less than 50%, that is said by people who don’t know us, who don’t know the ANC,” Ramaphosa said at the party’s 112th birthday celebration in Mpumalanga, a province in eastern South Africa.
He said the ANC would launch its official elections manifesto next month, which would outline the party’s aims for the next five years.
South Africa’s economy has struggled to eke out meaningful growth during Ramaphosa’s term in office, while the Covid-19 pandemic plunged over 9 million more people into poverty.
Record levels of power interruptions as a result of inefficiencies at the ailing state-owned utility Eskom has also irked voters, who must contend with poor service delivery and joblessness in addition to power outages.
Ramaphosa acknowledged the government’s failings and “reversals” on service delivery.
“Yes, our people have been suffering with spillage of sewerage in the streets and in their houses, sometimes they have not had the water they deserve,” Ramaphosa told a crowd of over 40,000 members and supporters.
Ramaphosa said his party was looking to win decisively in order to deliver on its promises to tackle crime, corruption and electricity shortages.
Elections will take place between May and August this year.
(Reporting by Kopano Gumbi; Editing by Mike Harrison)