Democratic Alliance Appeals to US, Europe to Ensure Free Elections in South Africa

Bianca Bridger
Bianca Bridger
Bianca holds a degree in Political Science from the University of Otago, New Zealand. As the Africa Desk Chief for Atlas, her expertise spans conflict, politics, and history. She is also the Editor for The ModernInsurgent and has interests in yoga and meditation.

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What You Need to Know:

The Democratic Alliance (DA), main opposition party to South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC), has requested support from the United States as well as several European Nations to ensure free and fair elections come voting time in May. 

In a letter to Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the DA asks for support in deploying independent domestic observers, as well as resources to bolster civil society groups focused on providing education on voting to the public. 

Additionally, the letter asks for technological resources to combat misinformation and disinformation from foreign ‘malign actors.’ 

The Details:

President Cyril Ramaphosa of the ANC claims that the DA’s request has put South Africa’s sovereignty on a ‘silver platter’ and “[the letter is] basically saying we are mortgaging our democracy… It’s disingenuous and there’s an agenda that underpins that.”

The DA’s move comes as the country becomes increasingly nervous that election day could be marred by violence between uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and ANC Party members. 

The DA’s letter notes “the recent establishment of the MK Party, led by former President Jacob Zuma, is set to gain significant support in the province of KwaZulu-Natal, which may have concomitant implications at the national level. We are of the view that MK poses a substantive risk to the continued peaceful nature of our political discourse as a nation.” 

Zuma’s MK Party has witnessed a sharp increase in support in KwaZulu-Natal in recent weeks which threatens the ANC’s position in the region. In July 2021, riots swept the province following the release of an arrest warrant for the former President. 354 people were killed and hundreds of shops were looted and burnt by Zuma supporters. 

However, a report on the July unrest by the SA Human Rights Commission (SAHRC) found no link between Zuma and the unrest. The report does however quote on various occasions, Joseph Conrads ‘Heart of Darkness’ and William Golding’s ‘Lord of the Flies.’ 

Some see this report’s inability to find any link between Zuma and the July unrest, despite it containing 112 references to the former President, as a stark marker of the state’s willingness to protect political elites in the country. 

The DA’s letter states, “it is our contention that as the ruling elite grow more desperate to retain electoral support ahead of the upcoming elections, they may be willing to put their narrow political interests ahead of our Country’s broader interests and sacred constitutional values. Here, we are witnessing an increasing willingness by the ANC to forge alliances with malign international actors, whose regimes are characterized by tyranny, terror, and oppression.”