Johannesburg, SOUTH AFRICA

The general election in South Africa is set to take place on Wednesday amidst citizens’ frustration over frequent power outages, unemployment, and rampant corruption.

Voters will cast their ballots on that day, threatening to end the rule of the African National Congress (ANC), which has dominated the nation for 30 years since former President Nelson Mandela led the country under the ANC’s banner.

Never before has there been such media coverage globally showing South African voters lining up to vote for the first time since the end of minority White rule, with the ANC facing the real possibility of losing its parliamentary majority.

Opinion polls indicate that the ANC’s share of the vote could drop to as low as 40%, compared to 57.5% in 2019, which would force the party into a potentially difficult coalition with opposition parties – potentially posing a leadership challenge for President Cyril Ramaphosa.

However, a survey released earlier this week by the research firm Afrobarometer showed that one-third of voters remained undecided, making this election the most unpredictable in South Africa’s democratic history.

According to political researcher at the University of Witwatersrand, Nicole Beardsworth, she sees the ANC taking a “small hit” on the day, and doubts worse predictions – especially given Ramaphosa’s recent introduction of popular pledges such as the National Health Insurance Bill and the proposed basic income grant.

“But I don’t think we will see the ANC getting more than 50%,” she said.

“They … will be negotiating to form a coalition with members from other parties. The big question is, with whom?”

She said much would depend on how they conduct themselves, either by doing well or poorly.

A diminished share could enable them to strike a deal and align with a smaller party with less bargaining power.

Losing more followers could mean aligning with the Marxist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – prospects that unsettle South African business leaders and minority whites – or with several smaller parties that could disrupt decision-making negotiations.