Opposition on the ropes

South Africa’s Democratic Alliance is facing an identity crisis. James Hamill explains why

The World Today
4 minute READ

James Hamill

Retired lecturer in politics and international relations, University of Leicester

These are perilous times for South Africa’s principal opposition party. The Democratic Alliance should be exploiting the divisions in the ruling African National Congress which are restricting President Cyril Ramaphosa’s capacity to deliver meaningful change.

Instead, it has descended into crippling internecine warfare. In October 2019, this produced the resignations of Mmusi Maimane, elected in 2015 as the alliance’s first black leader, Athol Trollip, the federal chairman, and Herman Mashaba, the alliance’s mayor of Johannesburg. It may yet end with the demise of the party, at least in its existing form.

Opposition politics can often seem a sideshow in a dominant-party system such as South Africa’s, but this is a development with important implications for the health of its democracy.

Subscribe to read all issues

Articles from the current issue are free to read by all, the archive is exclusive to magazine subscribers and our members. Subscribe or become a member to view articles from the archive.