South Africa’s election campaign is shaken by Gaza war

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South Africa’s election campaign is shaken by Gaza war, There are just over three months left until South Africa’s much-anticipated general election and the landscape of the country is undergoing a profound change.

Recently, Israel’s war in Gaza has emerged as a key election issue as Cyril Ramaphosa has addressed domestic issues such as corruption within government, power cuts, and the economy.

There has been a major division in South African politics regarding Palestine since the apartheid era, as the white government aligned itself with Israel and the anti-apartheid movement aligned itself with Palestinian resistance.

Despite that, Israel’s continuing military operation in Gaza since October has compelled political parties to be open with their positions. There is a likelihood that the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the ruling African National Congress (ANC) will see the boundaries of their constituencies changed as a result of their positions on the war.

A clear pro-Palestine position has been taken by the government led by the ANC. Israel is now facing a referral to the International Criminal Court as a result of South Africa’s early call for the term “genocide” to be applied to its actions in Gaza after the October 7 Hamas attack. Earlier this month, Pretoria also took Israel to the International Court of Justice, the world’s highest legal authority.

Conversely, the DA has consistently supported Israel initially but has been more ambivalent about “peace” in recent years.

“During the religious holiday of Simchat Torah today, Hamas carried out an unprovoked attack on Israeli territory,” said Emma Powell, the DA shadow minister for international relations and cooperation. In response to this senseless violence and terror against “Innocent civilians, women, and children, the DA calls for the aggressors to withdraw immediately.”

Following a drastic increase in deaths in Gaza a month later, the DA switched to more centrist rhetoric, with its leader John Steenhuisen saying, “The (DA) stands in solidarity with both Palestinians and Israelis seeking a two-state solution … We believe in rationality based on peaceful coexistence for both a secure Israel and a free Palestinian state.”

Israeli killing of Palestinians is not considered genocide by the Democratic Alliance, as it is by the Economic Freedom Fighters and other smaller opposition parties.

South Africa’s ANC has proved wildly popular both in and outside of the country ahead of the May 29 vote.

The electoral map has been realigned

It was expected that the DA would score an upset at the national level before October.

Only 49 percent of voters turned out in the country’s general election in 2019, the lowest turnout since the 1994 democratic vote.

Fewer than half of survey respondents supported the ANC in October, according to the Social Research Foundation (SRF). A scandal involving the theft of about $500,000 from Ramaphosa’s game farm exposed the high cost of living and spurred protests against Ramaphosa’s re-election campaign.

It has helped boost the chances of the ailing ANC, however, because the parties disagree on how to deal with the war.

A realignment of the electorate is underway in the Western Cape Province, which has been governed by DA since 2009. In addition to being the country’s parliamentary capital and second-largest city, Cape Town is one of South Africa’s largest provinces.

When Jacob Zuma’s predecessor Ramaphosa came to power in 2009, Luwayne Pretorius, a 46-year-old beauty industry worker, said he shifted his loyalty to the DA due to the ANC’s extended rights for gay Afrikaners.

It was also during Zuma’s tenure, which ended in 2018, that he was implicated in several corruption scandals, including one that claimed same-sex marriages are “a disgrace to the nation and to God”.

Recent events, however, have radically changed Pretorius’s stance.

Pretorius said the ANC’s opposition to apartheid Israel says a lot about the organization. It is impossible for a party like the DA to justify supporting another country committing ethnic cleansing as it mimics the style of apartheid in South Africa, especially after apartheid.

According to Robert Mattes, the co-founder and professor of government and public policy at the University of Strathclyde and professor of government at the University of Strathclyde, foreign policy does not affect South Africans’ voting decisions.

The coloured and Muslim communities in Cape Town are very active, but these are the voters who have already voted ANC. When Muslims vote for the DA, they will suffer from anger and irritability, but not enough to switch to the ANC because of the DA’s Gaza policy. The DA will lose them to smaller parties if they depart from it.”

South Africans generally vote on issues related to home, according to Na’eem Jeenah, senior researcher at MISTRA (Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection).

This time, he promises, things will be different.

Due to its support for Israel and refusal to address Gaza’s genocide, Jeenah believes there will certainly be a shift in voters away from the DA.

Despite their pro-Palestine actions, he predicts that many of those who will vote ANC will choose to support other parties like Al Jama-ah to protest against the DA.

A change of position, a change of allegiance

A growing anger among the DA’s Muslim and Black constituencies has reportedly changed its initial stance on the war, especially in the Western Cape.

Despite the party’s efforts, the desired result has not yet been achieved.

There will be two friendly matches between the Palestine men’s national team and two South African teams in Cape Town in February, as the mayor of Cape Town Geordin Hill-Lewis, of the DA, has pledged to provide 400,000 rand ($20,790) and free use of a stadium for the matches.

At the beginning of the game, President Ramaphosa, who attended the first match, was cheered and welcomed. Meanwhile, Hill-Lewis was booed as Pretorius complained about him “throwing crumbs to the population”.

A request for comments from the ANC and DA on voter decisions in the upcoming elections was not responded to.

The electorate, however, has already made their choice as to which party to vote for.

It has been announced that Nazeck Booley, a former DA voter, has switched parties.

This war has made me more aware of the situation in the city [Cape Town] and apartheid’s continued existence. It was a jolt to the system. At first, I thought the DA had a community-centric approach and kept the city running better than others, but I wasn’t aware of their true motives. I would never vote DA.”

In spite of her avid support for the DA, Wiedaad Achmat says she is “99 percent confident” that she will vote ANC.

“The DA are racist and serve an vile, murderous, murderous, warring Israeli government”, she says.

The ANC is corrupt, immoral, and has looted the nation’s coffers. I couldn’t vote for them in good conscience” she said. It may be the one percent of the ANC’s stance against Israel that is holding me back, but for me, the ANC’s stance against Israel outweighs the load-shedding woes as well as the state of our economy.”

Timenews provided that news.

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