South Africa’s 4 big political parties begin final weekend of campaigning ahead of election

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Supporters of Umkhonto weSizwe party react during an election meeting in Mpumalanga, near Durban, South Africa on May 25 in anticipation of the 2024 general elections scheduled for May 29. (AP)

JOHANNESBURG, May 26, (AP): South Africa’s four main political parties began the final weekend of campaigning Saturday before a possibly pivotal election that could bring the country’s most important change in three decades.
Supporters of the African National Congress, which has been in the government ever since the end of white minority rule in 1994, gathered at a soccer stadium in Johannesburg to hear a speech by party leader and South African President Cyril Ramaphosa.
The ANC is under unprecedented pressure to retain its parliamentary majority in Africa’s most advanced country. Having seen its popularity steadily decline over the last two decades, Wednesday’s election could be a landmark moment when the party once led by Nelson Mandela drops below 50% of the national vote for the first time, although it’s still widely expected to win the largest share.
Several polls have the ANC’s support at less than 50%, raising the possibility that it will have to form a national coalition. That would also be a first for South Africa’s young democracy, which was only established 30 years ago with the first all-race vote that officially ended the apartheid system of racial segregation.
As thousands of supporters in the ANC’s black, green and gold colors attended its last major rally before the election, Ramaphosa recognized some of the grievances of South Africans, which include high levels of poverty and unemployment that mainly affect the country’s Black majority.
“We have a plan to get more South Africans to work,” Ramaphosa said. “Throughout this campaign, in the homes of our people, in the workplaces, in the streets of our townships and villages, so many of our people told us of their struggles to find work and provide for their families.”

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