South Africa's main opposition party rallies support as it concludes election campaign

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africa's main opposition party Democratic Alliance on Sunday made its final appeal to South Africans to help it unseat the ruling African National Congress as it concluded its campaign ahead of elections this week.

The Democratic Alliance is the biggest opposition party in South Africa and has gathered some smaller opposition parties to form a pact known as the Multi-Party Charter for South Africa, which will see a group of political parties combine their votes to challenge the ruling ANC after the elections.

Sunday's rally coincided with that of the smaller opposition Inkatha Freedom Party, which has the populous KwaZulu Natal province as its stronghold and has committed to work with the main opposition.

Recent polls and analysts have suggested the ANC could receive less than 50% of the national vote. The Democratic Alliance is under pressure after its support declined in the last national elections and a number of its former leaders left the party to form new political parties that will be competing in the polls.

Its leaders and supporters came out in the thousands Sunday in Benoni, east of Johannesburg, where its blue colored flags and party memorabilia decorated a small stadium in the town.

“Make no mistake, if DA voters stay at home, or they split the vote among many small parties on the ballot, then our country's next chapter could be even uglier than the past,” said party leader John Steenhuisen.

“If we sit back and allow a coalition between the ANC, the (Economic Freedom Fighters) and the (uMkhonto weSizwe), aided by the sell-outs in the Patriotic Alliance, then our tomorrow will be far, far worse than yesterday. It will be doomsday for South Africa,” he said to loud applause.

A coalition between the DA and other parties including the Patriotic Alliance in the Johannesburg council after the 2021 local government elections collapsed, handing power back to an ANC-led coalition and resulting in political animosity between the two parties.

Steenhuisen has repeatedly accused the ruling ANC and the leftist opposition party Economic Freedom Fighters of planning to go into coalition after the elections.

Speaking ahead of its final rally in the city of Richards Bay in KwaZulu-Natal on Sunday, Inkatha Freedom Party leader Velenkosini Hlabisa said their main objective was to see the current government removed.

"The IFP is campaigning to remove the ANC from power and become part of the government at a policy making level and also cut the ANC to below 50% at national level.

“We are calling on people to take action and vote IFP to remove the government that has failed them,” said Hlabisa.

He said most negotiations would take place after the results were in. Hlabisa highlighted unemployment, poverty, crime and the country's electricity crisis as some of the major problems South Africans are facing.

“We all know the crisis we are facing, we all know the depth of the struggle in South Africa and the daily trauma so many people endure. What the country needs to hear is that there is a way out,” he said.

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Mutsaka reported from Richards Bay, South Africa.

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AP Africa news: https://apnews.com/hub/africa

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Associated Press writer Farai Mutsaka reported from Richards Bay, South Africa.

05/26/2024 21:12 -0400

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