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NextImg:South Africa’s ANC launches election manifesto as president highlights party’s achievements

DURBAN, South AfricaSouth Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday highlighted the achievements of his African National Congress, which has ruled the country for all of its 30 years of democrac y, as it heads into a tight race in May’s election.

Ramaphosa delivered the party’s manifesto to thousands of ANC supporters at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday. The rally came as South Africa faces increasing poverty, unemployment and crime and a crippling electricity crisis.

Party supporters dressed in yellow, green and black party regalia packed the stadium and sang struggle songs praising Ramaphosa and the ANC, while others took advantage of the event to sell food, refreshments and party merchandise to the thousands attending.

A procession of motorbikes with bikers waving ANC flags was among the first displays to entertain the crowd before Ramaphosa arrived to the delight of supporters.

However, the tension surrounding this year’s elections was laid bare when some supporters entered the stadium grounds carrying a caricature coffin bearing the name of the uMkhonto we Sizwe political party, a new political organization formed by former ANC president Jacob Zuma.

The party is set to compete in this year’s elections after Zuma denounced the ANC.

PHOTOS: South Africa's ANC launches election manifesto as president highlights party's achievements

In what has become somewhat of a popularity contest between parties to show who can pull in the biggest crowds to their election rallies, thousands of ANC supporters were bussed in from various parts of the country to ensure the stadium was full as early as possible.

The ANC also brought in popular musicians to entertain supporters. They performed after Ramaphosa‘s speech, concluding with ANC slogans and colorful fireworks and confetti.

However, millions of South Africans will likely be more interested in whether the ANC can deliver on its promises and address the many challenges the country faces. These include stagnant economic growth, rising levels of poverty, unemployment, crime and a crippling electricity crisis that has resulted in rolling power blackouts.

According to Ramaphosa, the ANC plans to create more than 2.5 million job opportunities in the next five years. He said some of these would come from South Africa‘s transition from coal-based power generation to cleaner energy.

“Our strategy will also meet the new global challenges of climate change. A balanced just transition to a cleaner, greener future can lead to new jobs and secure the competitiveness of our exports,” he said.

Ramaphosa dismissed the opposition parties looking to unseat the ANC in this year’s elections. “We are the only organization that can take South Africa forward,” he said.

The ANC manifesto attributes some of the challenges faced by the country to the COVID-19 pandemic, the electricity crisis, global political conflicts, the July 2021 unrest and climate change.

It also points out that the country’s economy has grown since 1994, that the ANC continues to provide social welfare and housing for millions of poor South Africans.

South Africa‘s elections are expected to be highly contested, with some opposition parties joining forces to form a coalition if the ANC receives less than 50% of the national vote.

Over the last few weeks opposition parties have also launched their manifestos, promising to create jobs and bring an end to the electricity crisis, among other promises.