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South Africa in 2014: Mandela and Elections

Author: John Campbell, Ralph Bunche Senior Fellow for Africa Policy Studies
December 18, 2013


South Africa and the world have, since his death on December 5, been in the grip of a celebration of Nelson Mandela's life and legacy. Yet the country will be moving quickly on, with the nitty gritty of national elections in March 2014. This process, and the formation of the resulting government, will dominate the first half of the year. Mandela was the public face of the governing African National Congress (ANC), which has always benefited from his halo effect. President Jacob Zuma no doubt hopes that will continue.

The ANC is the dominant element in a ruling coalition with the South African Communist Party (SACP) and the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU). SACP and COSATU contest elections under the mantle of the ANC, not as separate political parties. Throughout his life, Mandela was an unstinting ANC party man. In the aftermath of his death, some mourning events have had the coloring of a party rally. The party and President Zuma are doing all they can to maintain an association between Mandela and the ANC. But Mandela's death also highlights the gulf between his ideals and current South African reality. When he appeared on the screens during the memorial service, Zuma was booed.

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