South African Elections

This past week’s election in South Africa has prompted me to make this post.

The first night we arrived in Cape Town this past February, our friend Judy Mayotte had organized a dinner at a local restaurant with about 25 of her friends to celebrate Barack’s election. We brought along assorted campaign items – buttons, pins, decals, etc. – for everyone that attended. I filmed some video of people speaking in very touching terms as to how Barack’s election brought new hope about their feelings about America and it’s place in the world, but I am hesitant to post without getting their permission. But here is a quick clip of the dinner taking place:

In addition to celebrating the election of a new President in the United States, there was also much discussion about the upcoming elections in South Africa. At the time, the person who ended up winning this past week, A.N.C.’s Jacob Zuma, was embroiled in a criminal corruption case that was dropped only three weeks before the election. At the dinner, we spoke to a guy who had recently switched allegiance from A.N.C. to COPE, a new party that was running on an anti-corruption, smarter government platform.

The A.N.C., which has been the dominant party since Nelson Mandela launched it in a nation that is 80% black, won with 66% of the vote. COPE received only 7% of the vote, and the Democratic Alliance (which received almost all of the white and mixed race, or ‘colored’ as it is called in South Africa, votes - mostly from the province that includes Cape Town) received 17%, an improvement from 12% it received in 2004.

Bottom-line, unlike the huge change that took place in the United States with the election of Barack Obama, South Africans, as far as I can tell, voted to essentially maintain the status quo with respect to national leadership.