South Africa begins voting in most important election in THIRTY YEARS as High Commissioner admits there is 'still hangover from the past'

​A South African main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) supporter waves a South African flag

A South African main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) supporter waves a South African flag

Noah Abrahams

By Noah Abrahams

Published: 29/05/2024

- 12:28

Updated: 29/05/2024

- 12:29

South African High Commissioner Jeremiah Nyamane Mamabolo admitted there have been 'ups and downs'

Today, South Africa goes to the polls as approximately 28 million citizens cast their vote in what some are describing as the country's most important general election since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Perhaps for the first time in almost exactly 30 years, South Africans have the very real opportunity to end decades of African National Congress majority power and to divide what was once Nelson Mandela’s government.

Unlike in 94’ where Mandela’s ANC party liberated millions of black South Africans from generations of colonialism and discrimination, today’s pollsters in Africa’s most developed country believe that John Steenhuisen’s Democratic Alliance (DA) could join the ANC to form modern day South Africa’s first coalition government.

The South African High Commissioner to the United Kingdom, His Excellency Jeremiah Nyamane Mamabolo, exclusively told GB News that the ANC "are the party who will alleviate poverty, who will change the current conditions and who will make sure that unemployment is done away with".

\u200bJohn Steenhuisen and president Cyril Ramaphosa going head to head in the polls

John Steenhuisen and president Cyril Ramaphosa going head to head in the polls


The 68-year-old said: "It is our party who the people will vote for.

"We are the party of liberation in South Africa. The ANC will win. The people will choose a party that will deliver on their demands."

In only the seventh democratic election in South Africa’s history, the ANC government have to contend with stats pointing to economic marginal growth of just 0.1 per cent in the final quarter of 2023, load shedding that last year resulted in Eskom power cuts leading to household blackouts for a record 280 days and the possibility of National Health Insurance (NHI) taxes increasing. Let alone a lack of any postal service.

The South African High Commissioner addressed his country's economic issues.

He told GB News: "It is no secret that there have been ups and downs. That there has been disgruntlement towards the party in power. There will always be those who are happy and those who are unhappy. It is not possible to make everybody happy. There are still some hiccups and areas of a society we don't want to have. There is still a hangover from the past and it won't just evaporate or disappear."

Jeremiah Nyamane Mamabolo

His Excellency Jeremiah Nyamane Mamabolo


He added: "There have been successes and failures. I think you have to weigh the failures against the successes. The previous regime, the apartheid regime, was dealing with the minority. Now, we are expanding policies to hundreds and thousands of people who have been marginalised all along.

"Unity is something that is in the making and we will continue to fight for that. Everybody is behind the constitution, black and white. Not everybody will agree, but I can tell you that we are a much more united people.

"The postal service is part of the problem and so is load shedding. These are the problems that we still need to tackle. We still don't have ideal conditions for people, but we have done what we can do so far. We have reached a certain level, but the struggle is long. As Nelson Mandela said, it is a long war for freedom. Freedom both economically and politically.

“If you look at the progress of what we have done up until now, there is quite a lot that has been achieved in areas such as education and employment."

\u200bMen dressed in traditional Zulu attires

Men dressed in traditional Zulu attires of the Nazareth Baptist Church, from the Ekuphakameni group


South Africa as a country is comprised of four major tribes, with Zulu, Xhosa, Ndebele and Swaz providing cultural variation alongside the nation’s 11 official languages.

One common mutuality, however, is that the majority of South Africans believe that their current ANC government is corrupt. In the latest Transparency International Corruption Perceptions Index, results showed that South Africa received its worst score to date.

South African Rugby World Cup winner and former national team captain, Francois Pienaar, told GB News that he believes corruption has spun out of control.

He said: "The ANC are failing the people of South Africa. It’s as simple as that. There is definitely corruption. Why is nobody in jail? The poor people of our country are suffering. Mr Mandela would be very sad and very angry."

Francois Pienaar

South Africa's former rugby player Francois Pienaar


Transparency International data reveals that South Africa’s challenges stem from decades of severe underfunding in public sectors, exacerbated by corruption and illicit financial flows siphoning resources away from basic public services.

"On the issue of corruption, it is a mistake to ask one particular group of people" Mamabolo said.

“People say the ANC is corrupt because the focus is on them. They are in government. Corruption is generally widespread across people. It doesn't necessarily mean that it is a product of one particular entity.

"When we were fighting against racism in South Africa, we almost fell into the trap of saying ‘you are racist because you are white’ and it is not that. It is the conditions that you create that create those kinds of ideas. So on corruption, yes, it is something we need to fight from wherever it comes. But, you cannot say that it particularly belongs to the ANC or to the DA.

“I can tell you that regardless of who is in power, there will still be corruption in South Africa. Corruption does not prescribe to a certain group of people. People point fingers at the ANC because they are the ones in power. Nobody condone’s corruption. I would say that the only way to fight corruption is by building institutions that condone whoever is found to be doing those kinds of things.

“You cannot now say that this is a particular problem that belongs to this particular [ANC] party. That is what I am opposed to. You cannot say that. We must consider corruption as an element that we need to fight."

\u200bSouth African president Cyril Ramaphosa

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa casts his vote


South Africa's President, Cyril Ramaphosa, is never far from controversy or political debate. In January, lawyers for Ramaphosa’s ANC began their case in the United Nations and alleged that Israel’s military offensive in Gaza had violated the Genocide Convention of 1948.

"Acts and omissions by Israel are genocidal in character, as they are committed with the requisite specific intent to destroy Palestinians in Gaza" lawyers said.

The British government was asked by Lord David Pannick in February about the assessment they would make of the UK’s relationship with South Africa.

The answer was that the government encouraged South Africa to "make clear to Iran that Hamas has no role in a long-term political solution which delivers security for both Palestine and Israel."

\u200bLord David Pannick

Lord David Pannick QC


The High Commissioner said: "We have always said that because of our history, we want to fight for a better South Africa, for a better continent and for a better world.

"This is why we will always speak on issues in Gaza and the West Bank. Where we think there has been a violation of human rights, we will always stand tall.

"It is not something we pretend to want to do. It is something that, because of our own experiences and where we come from, we will always be committed to it.

"The change of conditions in our country is not just for the people of South Africa, but for the continent. If we can, we will always speak for everybody else in the world who finds themselves worse off because of conditions created by others."


Delegates attend a ruling on South Africa's request to order a halt to Israel's Rafah offensive in Gaza in the Hague


He added: "South Africa has been most consistent. People say that our government are antisemitic and that we hate Jews. I for one can never be accused of being antisemitic. In our struggle against apartheid, we had all people of all colour fighting. I can tell you great Jewish leaders who would be surprised at the suggestion of antisemitism.

"I look at Jewish leaders just as I look at black leaders. I can give you a history of the role that Jewish people played in our society. There isn't anything anti-Jew about the position that South Africa is holding [in relation to the accusation of Israel committing genocide]. South Africa continues to stand up for any violation of human rights.

"South Africa is saying that countries need to sit down and negotiate. That’s what we have been doing with the Ukrainians and the Russians. People say that we are friends with the Russians. On what basis does anybody believe that we are not friends with the Ukrainians? People don't know their history.

"The ANC trained in Ukraine. The Ukrainians are just as much our friends as the Russians. It’s a perception where people favour one way over the other.

Sign reading "stop the war crimes"

South Africa has accused Israel of genocide in a hearing at the ICJ in the Hague


He continued: "The attitude that we want to conquer or banish the other side is not going to benefit anybody. We believe that countries must sit down and negotiate. Israel has a right to exist as a State, but so does Palestine. There are guidelines put there by the United Nations and all we are saying is that they should be followed. We support and negotiate with other countries so that we can resolve conflict.”

South Africa takes a non-aligned approach to foreign policy. The ANC-led country is known for pursuing its own aims without allying with particular blocs.

In its ‘Integrated review refresh 2023’, the UK government consolidated UK-South Africa relations, with a promise made to invest in long-term relationships across the African continent

“We say to the people of the UK that they delivered this baby together with us. They [the UK] have just as much concern over progress in South Africa as we do. We share the same values,” the High Commissioner exclaimed.

"There are talks of alternative sources of clean energy and we are working with people in the UK to use their skills here, to stop load shedding. We will encourage investment in clean energy and the use of solar panels. We want to collaborate skills here with ours at home in South Africa. We want to create a win-win situation, where investment and education can improve."

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