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South Africa marks Freedom Day ahead of tough general election

South Africa marked Freedom Day on Saturday. The day on which, 30 years ago, millions of South Africans braved long queues to vote in the country’s first democratic elections, ending decades of white minority rule.

“The weight of centuries of oppression was no longer holding us down,” said President Cyril Ramaphosa in a speech marking the day, “On that day, as a united people, we stood tall as South Africans”.

The election 30 years ago was won by his African National Congress (ANC) party which has been in power ever since.

But any sense of celebration on the momentous anniversary was set against a growing discontent with the government of the ruling party.

The party’s image has been hurt by widespread accusations of corruption and its inability to effectively tackle pressing issues including crime, inequality, poor service delivery, and unemployment, which remain staggeringly high.

In his speech marking Freedom Day at the Union Buildings in South Africa’s administrative capital, Pretoria, Ramaphosa touted the country’s achievements under his party’s leadership.

“We have built houses, clinics, hospitals, roads, and constructed bridges, dams, and many other facilities. We have brought electricity, water, and sanitation to millions of South African homes,” he said.

But polls suggest support for the ANC is at an all time low, falling to around 40 per cent compared to 62 per cent in 1994.

Analysts predict that the party is likely to see it lose its parliamentary majority for the first time in the elections due to take place on 29 May, forcing it into a coalition.


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