As South Africa heads towards crucial local elections, the country has been hit by a series of crippling blackouts which many critics say highlight poor governance
As South African residents and businesses struggle to cope with power cuts for up to six hours a day, the government’s inability to provide a stable power supply is a burning election issue. The national electricity company Eskom, which supplies around 90% of South Africa’s electricity, has for years been marred by allegations of mismanagement and corruption.
“The majority of households just want to turn on a tap and have water, turn on a switch and see the lights,” Shenilla Mohamed, executive director of Amnesty International South Africa, told The Associated Press. “They don’t want to leave their homes. and see the sewers. They don’t want their children to be sick. They are fundamental human rights that they want to uphold.
Local elections, which take place every five years, determine who will sit on the councils that run the country’s cities, including responsibility for providing basic services like water, waste management and sanitation. The councilors will elect the mayors of the cities.
The rise this year of independent candidates opposing the ruling African National Congress and other major parties is a sign that many South Africans are looking for alternatives, Mohamed said.
“People are fed up with the same rhetoric from the same parties over and over again. The emergence of independent candidates shows how disillusioned people are with existing parties, “she said.” They are looking for hope and leaders who will make their lives better. “
Eskom announced that no blackouts will take place on polling day, Monday, which has been declared a national holiday to encourage good turnout.
The government of President Cyril Ramaphosa has announced plans to increase power generation capacity through renewable energy projects from independent power producers, but these are far from being implemented.
The 2016 local elections saw major political changes, with the ruling ANC losing control of Johannesburg, the country’s largest city and economic center; the metropolitan area of Tshwane which includes the capital Pretoria; and the Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan area which includes Gqeberha (formerly Port Elizabeth).
The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, rules Cape Town and has formed coalitions with smaller parties to lead Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay.
Left-wing economic freedom fighters led by Julius Malema are campaigning strongly against the ANC government for failing to provide adequate services to South Africa’s black majority.
The campaign was lively in Cape Town, where the former mayor Patricia of Lille confronts the Democratic Alliance with his good party. Posters from Lille in boxing gloves say she will fight for good government in Cape Town and the Western Cape Province.
Another party is the Cape Independence Party, which advocates “Capexit”, the independence of the Western Cape and Northern Cape provinces from South Africa.
Also in Cape Town, the former press presenter Eben Jansen is a candidate for the Dagga (Marijuana) party. Jansen, now a marijuana producer, has said he wants to become mayor of Cape Town and make the city the marijuana capital of South Africa.
Meldrum reported from Cape Town.