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South Africa: Election 2009

April 21st, 2009

South Africa, the economic powerhouse of the continent of Africa, holds its fourth democratic general elections on 22 April 2009.

The Africa National Congress (ANC) which has been in power since the end of the apartheid regime in 1994 is expected to win the election with Jacob Zuma becoming President.

The ANC still enjoys the support of the majority of South Africans and has been boosted recently by the appearance at a campaign rally by former President Nelson Mandela. ANC presidential candidate Jacob Zuma has been under intense legal pressure during the past few years from a graft case against him. A few weeks ago the national prosecuting authority dropped all charges. However opposition parties have continued to label ANC as corrupt. The other intense moment for the ANC was September 2008 when internal political struggles led to the replacement of Thabo Mbeki from the South Africa Presidency by Kglema Mothlanthe.

A widely known opposition party in the 2009 election is the new Congress of the People (COPE), a break away group from the ruling party. COPE promises to win and prevent the ANC from maintaining a two thirds majority in parliament. COPE is led by a former Methodist bishop Mvume Dandala. Another high profile opposition party is the Democratic Alliance under the leadership of Helen Zille.

South Africa still faces a number of challenges and the new government has to provide some response to the situation. South Africa is instrumental in finding a lasting solution to Zimbabwe’s political and economic crisis. A majority of South Africans still recognize the unrealized opportunity for economic and social integration. HIV/AIDS is a serious concern which requires a comprehensive government approach to the pandemic.

The Missionary Oblates have a significant presence in South Africa, by far one of the largest catholic religious groups of men. Oblates are working in parishes, schools and serve as chaplains.

Read the Pastoral Letter from South Africa Catholic Bishops: AWAKE! AWAKE! PROTECT OUR DEMOCRACY.

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