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Race and Politics Collide in South Africa's 2024 Election Campaign

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Israel Ojoko
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Race and Politics Collide in South Africa's 2024 Election Campaign

As South Africa gears up for the 2024 national elections, a complex political drama unfolds, casting a spotlight on the African National Congress (ANC), the Multi-Party Charter (MPC), and a businessman turned potential presidential candidate, Roger Jardine.

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The ANC's Secretary-General, Fikile Mbalula, has stirred the pot by accusing the MPC of using Jardine as a 'black face' in their election campaign, a claim that has set the political stage ablaze.

The Power Tussle

The Multi-Party Charter, comprising of the Democratic Alliance, Inkatha Freedom Party, Freedom Front Plus, ActionSA, United Independent Movement, Spectrum National Party, and the Independent South African National Civics Organisation, is an ambitious coalition seeking to form a pre-election agreement.

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The aim is to offer a government alternative to the ANC, a formidable force that gathered 57.5% of the vote in the 2019 election, with the collective opposition securing a mere 27.4%. The opposition's mission is not only ambitious but fraught with challenges, as shifting the allegiance of South African voters is no easy task.

Jardine – The Contested Figure

Roger Jardine, a businessman and former FirstRand chairperson, is at the center of the controversy. The DA leaders have met with Jardine, discussing the possibility of him becoming the coalition's presidential candidate.

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The ANC, through Mbalula, contends that this move is a calculated attempt by the DA to leverage Jardine's racial identity and his connections with the ANC for political gain, injecting racial undertones into the pre-election discourse.

Cracks in the Opposition Alliance

The allegations come at a time when the opposition alliance shows signs of internal strain and division. This pre-election atmosphere, thick with accusations and counter-accusations, reflects the high stakes involved as the ANC faces a united front of opposition parties.

The situation offers an uncanny parallel to India's recent state elections, where the main opposition alliance faltered against the Bharatiya Janata Party, highlighting the challenges of opposition unity against a dominant party.

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