The African National Congress, the party in power in South Africa since the country achieved majority rule in 1994, won again in last week’s general elections. Still, the party has serious — and growing — problems.
South African President Jacob Zuma is likely to be given a second and final term when the National Assembly convenes next week. He expressed hope that his party would capture two-thirds of the body’s 400 seats, which would enable it to change the country’s constitution, but the ANC fell short of that goal.
Still, the ANC’s victory was predictable. Even though a growing percentage of South African voters was born after 1994, most of the country’s 42 million black Africans continue to honor the ANC for its consistent role since its 1912 founding in opposing white-minority, then apartheid, rule.
In 1994, the ANC inherited the difficult task of redistributing South Africa’s economic wealth — which was largely in the hands of out-of-power whites — to improve the lives of the black majority without destroying the economy. It has done a reasonable job of that.
Still, the ANC’s presidents have become less credible, from Nelson Mandela to Thabo Mbeki and now to Mr. Zuma. Other recent scandals included the killings by security forces of 34 striking miners last year and Mr. Zuma’s spending of $23 million in government money on improvements to his personal residence.
It is not likely that South Africa’s people will support forever an increasingly corrupt ANC. In some ways, as South Africa goes, so goes Africa.