South Africa seems to have survived it’s 3rd free and fair democratic elections. There is no doubt in anybodies mind as to who would win them, but it the intention behind the action that truly defines its nature. This country could have gone the way of so many other African nations and crumbled into a frenzy of land-grabbing and government sanctioned ‘ethic cleansing’, but it did not. The African National Congress was assured of victory, their majority beyond question but they did not simply extend President Mbeki’s term of office. The elections were called, all parties encouraged to campaign and all voters pushed to throw in their lot.
Of course, the doom-criers may yet be proven right, but only if we allow all that has been gained to go to our collective head. I do not believe this is so, if I did, I would have taken the road that many other young South Africans did and jump the pond to Oz or the UK. I have faith in the abilities of our people and our government and as long as I do, I will argue in their favor.
Incidentally, I did not put my stamp of approval on the ANC, I placed it elsewhere. A true democracy is bred through the strength of the opposition parties and judged by how the majority power cooperates with them. The true test of the New South Africa will come when the ANC no longer holds their majority, it will come when their power is threatened and their support-base eroded. Will they graciously step across the floor and become an opposition party, or will they try to seize control? Time can, and will, tell.
The ‘New South Africa’ is just the same as the ‘Old South Africa’, we are all still here. I just want it to be called ‘South Africa’, no comparative prefix necessary.