South Africa's 2009 Elections - Publications

South Africa's 2009 Elections - Publications

03. Feb. 2014

South African Elections 2009 Dossier

Photos by David Harrison and Katlholo Maifadi.


The emergence of a ANC breakaway party, controversial leadership, the untested predictions of significant opposition gains and simmering discontent with service delivery 15 years into democracy – all in the midst of a global recession – raised the stakes of South Africa’s 4th general election. For the first time since 1994, ruling party and former liberation movement the African National Congress (ANC) while still winning a decisive victory, no longer holds a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly. In elections which drew a staggering 77% of voters to the polls, the party has witnessed its overall share of votes decline, while opposition parties shared in the spoils.In the Western Cape, historically a hotly contested province, the ANC will once again assume the role of official opposition, as it did after South Africa’s first elections.

There is no doubt that the 2009 elections were the most competitive and important since 1994. In putting to the test several features of the country’s political landscape their outcomes will play a key role in shaping the nation’s futures.

It is implications to South Africa’s political futures that contributions to this dossier – primarily put together in the weeks leading up to these historic elections – aimed to articulate and tackle. It asked questions such as: To what extent is the South African electorate ready to cast aside the ANC’s liberation legacy with their votes? Is the potential for the future rise of a viable opposition latent?  What to make of the instances of political violence, intimidation and incendiary rhetoric that test the extent of South Africa’s social cohesion and political tolerance? Contributions that reassess the answers to these in the post elections landscape will be added in due course.

Alongside the numerous articles on the political background to South Africa’s 2009 polls, we hope that the collection of original contributions included here provide an accessible survey of the issues which shaped South Africa’s 2009 elections.

Issues 2009

“100% Zulu Boy”: Jacob Zuma and the use of gender in the run-up to South Africa’s 2009 election

April 20, 2009 - In a context of heightened political contestation, party campaigns in the run-up to South Africa’s fourth democratic election on 22 April 2009 election featured attempts to mobilise identities with discourses of intolerance. This happened primarily on the basis of ethnicity, political affiliation, gender and sexuality. The intersection of ethnicity/gender/sexuality was neatly encapsulated in the “100% Zulu boy” t-shirt, referring to ANC president Jacob Zuma, that cropped up at the time of his trial on charges of rape. By Christi van der Westhuizen more»

Let by-elections be by-elections?

- April 17, 2009 - Since the beginning of this year, municipal by-elections have been held in 72 wards across the country. In the current highly-charged political environment, by-elections are often used – wrongly – as the basis for predictions and crystal ball-gazing about the outcome of national elections next week. By Kate Lefko-Everett more»

State of South Africa’s Institutions of Democracy

- April 17, 2009 - Media coverage leading up to the 22 April elections would leave many of us convinced of a dramatic plunge over the past few years in the level of public trust in South African democratic institutions. Several significant events have led to such dwindling enthusiasm. By Shameela Seedat more»

The Business of Freedom: the Arms Deal and the Deep State

- April 16, 2009 - The ANC’s clearly articulated concerns during South Africa’s liberation struggle seemed to suggest that, upon the ANC’s election in 1994, the alliance between business, the state (read: the ANC), and security forces would be shattered and reconfigured in a way that would serve the interests of the average South African. However, in assessing the last fifteen years, and after engaging with the insights provided by the Arms Deal into the realpolitik of South Africa’s post-apartheid history, it is difficult to see any significant change in this alliance. By Paul Holden more»

2009 Elections: A Litmus Test For South Africa’s Democracy

- April 6, 2009 - Election campaigns in South Africa are characterised by widespread verbal assaults in which political parties lambaste each other. As the election date draws closer these attacks become more scathing, the messages more negative and the exchanges more aggressive. Cherrel Africa examines the implications of this. By Cherrel Africa more»


Post-Polokwane Challenges for the New ANC Leadership

- If one were to write a script documenting Thabo Mbeki’s dramatic rise and fall from the presidency of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) in December 2007, it would arguably have begun with the following caution: By Jan Hofmeyr more»


Report of the Electoral Task Team

- After being constituted in early 2001, the Electoral Task Team (ETT) appointed by Cabinet to explore alternative electoral systems for South Africa tabled its report to the South African Cabinet in March 2003. more»

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