South Africa. In the April parliamentary elections, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) received 70% of the vote, giving the party 279 of the 400 seats. Thus, the ANC strengthened its already strongly dominant position. The main opponent Democratic Alliance received 12% and 50 seats. The New National Party (NNP), heir to the ruling party of the apartheid era, was almost completely wiped out and later decided to join the ANC.
According to CountryAAH, the total population in South Africa is 59,308,701 people in 2020. Party leader Marthinus van Schalkwyk was rewarded with the post of Minister of the Environment. However, President Thabo Mbeki, who was re-elected for a new five-year term, dismissed Interior Minister Mangosuthu Buthelezi, after which his zulup party Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) left the government. Nevertheless, the ANC and IFP were able to conclude agreements on co-government in KwaZulu/Natal, one of the two provinces where the ANC did not get its own majority.
Despite the ANC’s superior electoral victory, there was clear wear and tear in the cooperation between the party and its two closest partners, the national organization COSATU and the communist party SACP. COSATU strongly criticized the government’s “silent diplomacy” against the regime in neighboring Zimbabwe, after a trade union delegation investigating the situation in Zimbabwe had been expelled from there. The trade union movement also criticized the ANC’s economic distribution policy, which according to COSATU mainly favors a small elite of blacks with close ties to the party.
In September, more than 700,000 civil servants went on strike in what was described as the largest labor market conflict in South Africa since the abolition of apartheid.
The currency, the rand, reached its highest level in five years in July. Nevertheless, economic growth in the first half of the year rose to around 3% on an annual basis from 1.9% in 2003, and the strong rand helped counteract the inflationary pressure that would have caused high oil prices otherwise. High prices for export goods favored growth.
In April, a few weeks before the parliamentary elections, after many years of bitter debate, the state began distributing free brake medication to HIV-infected people. The ambition was that 50,000 of the country’s more than 5 million infected people would have access to the drugs within a year and that 1.4 million would be covered in 2009. But already after just over a month, the dividend was reduced, citing the fact that the production of the medicines did not meet the demand, a task that was rejected by the pharmaceutical industry. The government decided to suspend the medication of HIV-infected children for the time being.
1994 First democratic elections in the history of South Africa
The first multi-ethnic elections in South Africa’s history were conducted on days 26-29. April 1994. The turnout was 87%. The ANC got 63% of the vote, the Nationalist Party 20% and Inkatha (IFP) 10%. With the Freedom Front, the extreme right wing gained 2%. A National Unity Government was formed with the participation of the 3 largest parties. It allowed the former government finance minister and the head of the National Bank to remain on their posts.
The political structures of apartheid had been removed, but the economic and cultural framework remained unchanged. Black workers earned 9 times less than whites, and the unemployment rate for the two groups was respectively. 33% and 3%. Child mortality among the black population was 53%, while that of whites was 1%.
Mandela’s first step after forming government was to propose free medical treatment for all children under the age of 6 and pregnant women, the introduction of school meals for all schoolchildren, and the electrification of 350,000 homes. At the same time, he promised that by 1999 2.5 million new jobs would be created and 1 million new homes built.
However, the reconstruction and development program only progressed slowly in 1995. This was due to lack of funding and bureaucratic problems. New guidelines for teaching were drawn up. In October, plans were announced that over the following 18 months, 3.5 million South Africans would have access to running water. The first budget prepared by the Unity Government alone allocated 47% of the budget for social services, education 26%, investment in new housing doubled and military spending reduced. Agriculture Minister Derek Hanekom drew up and initiated an ambitious land reform. Guidelines were drawn up for conditions in the labor market, which included: guaranteed the right to strike and created new discussion forums in the workplace. The number of labor disputes decreased compared to previous years.
In January, the ANC withdrew the promise of immunity to 2 former ministers and 3500 police officers. A promise that had been given before the election. Their cases were to be investigated by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The trial of a former police chief responsible for 121 killings, abductions and scams brought new information about police incitement to political violence under the apartheid regime. Prominent members of Inkatha had received payments from the security police. A report by the Goldstone Commission to President de Klerk in 1994 confirmed this information. In June, the IFP Vice President was arrested for murder in 1987.
The strikes and accusations of racism within the police led the chief of the corps to resign. His successor, George Fivaz, declared that reforms would be implemented – including a demilitarization. At the same time, concerns about rising crime increased. Still, the new Constitutional Court abolished the death penalty.
The unit government suffered from a number of internal tensions that were compounded by the November local elections. Inkatha withdrew from Parliament and the Constitutional Assembly, claiming that the government wanted to establish total hegemony. In turn, the ANC accused the IFP of promoting KwaZulu/Natal’s secession, threatened to suspend the financing of the region and sent military and police forces to the province. In any case, the political violence in the province was reduced – from 300 killings a month before the election to 70 in the middle of 95.
The November 95 local elections were favorable to the ANC in almost the entire country. In May 96, the Nationalist Party withdrew from the government to join the opposition – for the first time since 1948.
The National Assembly passed a new constitution that, in the Government’s view, consolidated the transition to democracy. During the drafting of the new text, thousands of workers and traders conducted demonstrations, the result of which was the deletion of a section that gave employers the right to lockout in their businesses. That same year, the government passed a law legalizing abortion until the 12th week of pregnancy.