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Elections 2024     |     Tue 18 Jun

This limited series newsletter offers deep dives and timely updates from the Mail & Guardian’s esteemed politics and elections team. Your essential guide through South Africa’s pivotal elections, enriched by our historic journey from apartheid to democracy. Allow us to connect the past, present, and future of our nation’s democratic evolution.

Ramaphosa: South Africa will not fall apart if the ANC loses the elections

President Cyril Ramaphosa says South Africa has strong instruments in place to ensure there will not be any crisis if the ANC fails to outright win the 29 May elections. Pollsters and pundits have predicted that the ruling party will see its share of the vote dip below 50% for the first time since it took power in 1994.


DA leader Steenhuisen sees KZN as ‘wide open’ for coalition win

Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen believes KwaZulu-Natal is “wide open” and that his party will emerge as the head of a coalition in the province after the 29 May national and provincial elections.

Surge in political assassinations sparks concern ahead of South Africa’s May elections

South Africa recorded 35 assassinations during the first four months of 2024, of which 10 were political killings, an average of one hit every two weeks, raising concerns about a risk of political violence as candidates vie for posts after the 29 May elections.



Thirty years after the birth of our democracy, we assess its current state. While South Africa meets formal democratic criteria like regular elections and human rights, the actual experience of democracy reveals significant issues. Voter turnout has dropped sharply, reflecting growing apathy and mistrust in politicians and institutions.

High unemployment, inflation, and corruption have eroded public trust and participation. Voter turnout fell from 86.7% in 1994 to 65.9% in 2019, and the number is even lower when considering unregistered eligible voters.

Recent surveys show a worrying willingness to trade democracy for security and economic stability from even an unelected government, highlighting severe inequalities and dissatisfaction. This environment fosters populist and undemocratic actions, such as violent protests and political assassinations. Let’s hope we can curb the trend next week and revive some support for this essential system.




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Voter turnout fell from 86.7% in 1994 to 65.9% in 2019 and we expect it to drop lower this year.



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The rise in public violence and decrease in voting shows to correlate.





South Africa witnessed a surge in assassinations in the first four months of 2024, with 35 recorded killings, including 10 political assassinations, averaging one every two weeks. This alarming trend, highlighted in a recent report by the Global Initiative against Transnational Organised Crime (GI-TOC), raises serious concerns about escalating political violence as the country approaches its 29 May elections.

The report, authored by Rumbi Matamba and Chwayita Thobela, traces the history of political assassinations, revealing a disturbing pattern of targeted killings tied to electoral, business, and personal disputes. With historical spikes in violence during election years and a complex web of criminal and political collusion, the report underscores the urgent need to address this threat to South Africa’s democracy.

The infographic provides a detailed breakdown of these findings, offering a visual context to the pressing issue.



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Death by politics – the election years and their assassination rate. John McCann May 2024.





Thirty years later it’s worth it to look back on where it all started rather than where it all went wrong. It was a glorious day for the whole world on the gardens at the Union Buildings in Pretoria. David Beresford captured the historic moment when Nelson Mandela was sworn in as South Africa’s first democratic president.

He writes, “…one hour and eight minutes later than scheduled, the clock ticked on to the historic moment.

“— I, Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela, do hereby swear to be faithful to the Republic of South Africa, and to solemnly and sincerely promise at all times…”

Towards the end of his inaugural speech, the 4 000 assembled VIPs rose spontaneously to their feet for an ovation in a moment of genuine emotion as President Mandela declared: “Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another and suffer the indignity of being the skunk of the world.”



The Mail & Guardian May 13 – 19 1994


Our own Mark Gevisser joined the happy 40-000 strong crowd too. He writes, “When Mandela, De Klerk and Thabo Mbeki were ushered into their little bullet-proof cabin down at the Botha Lawn below the Union Buildings, Mandela pulled them out before the crowd, grabbed De Klerk’s arm and thrust it into the air. Mandela’s beneficence gave the crowds the go-ahead to cheer their former foe.”

As the day wore on and, “…as the rhythm took hold, the dance of transformed from being a rather ribald parody of boeredans to being something more African, more hybrid. Like those fighter jets, it belonged to the people now. They could take pride, even in boeremusiek, and make it their own. It was a reconciliation in motion.”


Presidential inauguration. South Africa’s reconciliation in motion. M&G edition May 13-19 1994





Last time to cast the best vote you can. Take this Mail & Guardian quiz to help you find the party with which you most align. It’s only 10 questions but very enlightening.


Graphic Quiz 300x250 M&g4






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