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Published online by Cambridge University Press: 06 May 2016
Two days before South Africa’s national election on June 2, 1999, Business Day—the country’s “quality” national daily newspaper—pronounced that “on balance” its vote was going to the African National Congress (ANC) for the job it had done since 1994. The government’s performance could have been better, it opined, but it could also have been a lot worse:
The ruling party deserves credit for the relative social stability SA has enjoyed since 1994. Its macroeconomic management, while not flawless, has been impressive. It has resisted taking the populist route. That it has been able and willing to do so is thanks, in part, to the strong 62% majority it won at the last election. ANC leaders might have felt less able to resist populist pressures had the majority been narrower.
After an uncertain start, the ANC has begun to deliver the improvements to the quality of life of its primary constituency, the black majority. Maintaining fiscal discipline while delivering on at least some election promises in the midst of an emerging markets crisis has been a remarkable balancing act.
Nevertheless, we cannot overlook some severe flaws and failures. The school system is a mess. Crime could have been more effectively dealt with. The performance of many ANC-run provincial governments has been abysmal. Notwithstanding its anti-corruption talk, it has displayed a reluctance to act firmly against culprits seen as party loyalists. All of which emphasizes the need for an effective opposition—if one can be found.
1. Business Day, May 31, 1999.
2. Drew Forrest, “St. Madiba—A Product of His Egalitarian Traditionalist Roots,” Business Day, June 15, 1999.
3. Steve Friedman, “Mbeki’s Means Must Justify His Ends,” Business Day, June 15, 1999.
4. Business Day, June 2, 1999.
5. Business Day, July 28, 1999.
6. Business Day, June 9, 1999.
7. “Financiers Happy With ANC Policy,” Eastern Province Herald, June 3, 1999.
8. “Labour, Crime Drag SA Down Global Index,” Business Day, July 14, 1999.
9. Adam, Habib and Rupert, Taylor, “Parliamentary Opposition and Democratic Consolidation in South Africa,” Review of African Political Economy 79 (1999): 109–115 Google Scholar.
10. Roger, Southall and Geoffrey, Wood, “COSATU, the ANC and the Election: Whither the Alliance?” Transformation 39 (1999): 68–83 Google Scholar.
11. J. Baskin, “Less Means More—and More Less,” Business Day, July 28, 1998.
12. Electoral Institute of South Africa, Election Update 99, 14 (June 12, 1998): Table 2.
13. Firoz Cachalia, “ANC Dominance Strengthens SA,” Business Day, May 31, 1999.
14. Farouk Chothia and Kevin O’Grady, “Racial Divisions on Political Style,” Business Day, June 7, 1999.
15. Farouk Chothia and Alan Fine, “SA Opposition’s Zimbabwe Scenario,” Business Day, June 4, 1999.
16. Daily Dispatch, July 29, 1999.
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