On the 8th of May South Africans headed to the polls for the 6th time since 1994. Against the backdrop of high unemployment, loadshedding, severe water shortages across the country and daily testimonies narrating how officials, political leaders and business persons hijacked state institutions and finances for personal benefit, a record number of parties contested the elections. While President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised a ‘new dawn’ and ‘self-correction’, the ANC is facing a political landscape that is more competitive, and an electorate that is less likely to turn out.

On Hope and the Death of Nostalgia


Having just elected a new president who has not yet made it clear whether or not he will be capable of addressing corruption, poverty and inequality, South Africans must either learn to live with uncertainty or embrace possibility. I am too cautious to suggest that we might begin to hope, but certainly, as the distance between 1994 and today widens, I see the merit in examining what is possible and looking for places where feats of imagination and acts of hard work might yet produce positive results.

By Sisonke Msimang

Politics & Consciousness: A New Dawn on the Horizon!?


The Cape Town office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation in conversation on the 2019 South African Elections

“While the team had diverse views on the contested areas of South Africa’s political landscape, all agreed that a consolidation of Ramaphosa’s political power now very much depends on his new cabinet. This will not just be determined by his political will alone, but also his ability to manoeuvre through the tricky corridors of the ruling party’s house of cards.”

Economic Tips for the New 6th Parliament


"More than half of the population withdrew their consent in this last election, holding little hope for this system to respond to their crisis in any coherent or meaningful way. Despite the many possible actions that could be taken, the new parliament and the new administration will almost certainly vindicate their choice."

By Luke Jordan

The People’s Choice: 2019


".....difficult choices are made not in five-year intervals at the voting booth. They are made in day-to-day life. In struggle for a better life. In the picket lines, community halls, classrooms, offices, on social-media timelines and in the streets......"

By Ayabonga Cawe

A View from Below


“…the view from the ground of the 2019 elections does not bode well for South Africa’s constitutional vision of an equal, non-racial society where every person’s human potential can be fulfilled.”

By Niren Tolsi

Durban floods: An open letter to President Cyril Ramaphosa

Partner Analysis

The massive floods that hit KZN, and Durban in particular, in April 2019 are yet another indicator of how climate change is affecting our resilience. While President Cyril Ramaphosa recently acknowledged this, there has been a strange silence since, and big, carbon-intensive programmes are steaming ahead in the port city. Surely the time for talking is over?

South Africa: 25 years after the end of apartheid


The end of the apartheid regime in 1994 marked the beginning of hope for political and economic change in South Africa. 25 years later, we take a look at what has remained of the initial spirit of optimism. This series of interviews voices the perspectives of civil society, academia and the media from South Africa and its former liberation allies Nigeria and Kenya. They underline the importance of the fight against apartheid throughout Africa and the challenges facing South Africa today.

Future proofing Cape Town's food supply


In South Africa, a severe water crisis, fuelled by climate change, laid bare the hyperbole of “a well-run, global best practices, World Design Capital bla bla” Cape Town. Instead of relying on window dressing, Cape Town should learn from cities that are serious about climate change mitigation and adaptation. Nazeer Sonday argues that we have the farmers, and a population concerned about its food. What we lack is political leadership.

By Nazeer A Sonday

Intra-party Democracy: How Democratic Are South Africa's Political Parties?

Partner Publication

South Africa is one of the many modern constitutional democracies where the internal organisation of political parties is not regulated according to internal party democracy or intra-party democracy (IPD) provisions. Consequently, over centralisation and the abuse of power within the country's political parties is a systemic problem, and one which has significant ramifications for democracy both during elections, as well as between them. This original research by My Vote Counts (MVC) sheds light on parties' processes and policies and aims to inform future decision making on the subject.

By My Vote Counts

How Does Eshowe Experience our Democracy Ahead of the Elections?

Partner Analysis

While most political parties are now focusing on the big cities, what do the elections look like from a rural perspective? My Vote Counts spoke to a resident of Eshowe in KwaZulu Natal to hear from him how the Eshowe community experiences South Africa's democracy, if they feel included at all and what they think about elections.

The Private Funding of Political Parties: What Do We Know?

Partner Publication

The negative impact of unregulated private funding of political parties in South Africa stretches back to the period prior to the inception of democracy in 1994.  Although on the 23rd of January 2019 President Ramaphosa signed into law the Political Party Funding Act (The Act) that provides for the regular and systematic disclosure of the sources and amounts of private funding allocated to political parties, South Africa's Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) decided to postpone its implementation until after the May elections. In the absence of an effective party funding transparency disclosure regime that enables an informed vote, this research compiled by My Vote Counts (MVC) collates historical and publicly available information on the private funding of political parties through donations and/or other financial transfers.

South Africa's Political Parties Through a Feminist Lens

Partner Analysis

Using an intersectional feminist framework, the Women and Democracy Initiative (WDI) analysed both the manifestos and track records of the country's three leading parties, alongside that of Women Forward (WF), a small women-led party contesting the elections for the second time. The analysis considers not only what these parties say on issues commonly labeled as ‘women’s', but also applies a feminist lens to the parties approaches to unemployment, wages, land and home ownership, social security, education and health. Grandstanding on gender during elections is the norm, with parties often taking the over-promise and underdeliver route. This analysis can serve as a feminist barometer on how parties act on these promises after elections.

By Women and Democracy Initiative, Dullah Omar Institute