A promising rivalry in South Africa
In elections, the opposition chipped away at ANC dominance.
Congratulations are due to South Africa. It just held its most competitive national elections – the nation's fourth – since the end of apartheid 15 years ago.
While the African National Congress again won by a wide margin in the April 22 vote, the opposition parties were apparently able to chip off more of the ANC's monolithic block. This growing pushback makes for a healthier democracy in Africa's largest economy.
But politics in this nation of nearly 50 million people is still largely driven by personality, race, and ethnicity. Until political parties evolve into a choice between ideas, they won't serve South Africans as well as they otherwise could. One concern: When the new parliament meets next month to formally elect ANC leader Jacob Zuma as president, it could usher in a period of dangerous ethnic division.
The ANC has a proud heritage as the liberation party of Nelson Mandela. Since it came to power in the 1994 elections, it has presided over a growing economy – helped by the lifting of international anti-apartheid sanctions.
It has built nearly 3 million low-cost homes. About 80 percent of households now have electricity and clean water. Schools and free health clinics have been set up. A small black middle class, dubbed the "black diamonds," has emerged, and South Africa has an independent judiciary and free press.