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The final rally of the 2024 election campaign in Johannesburg, South Africa, brought tens of thousands of African National Congress (ANC) supporters together in Soweto. This election is crucial for the ANC, which risks losing its 30-year majority. Despite confidence from ANC leaders that they will retain power, critics argue that the party has failed to deliver on promises, such as addressing the country’s power grid issues.

In the low-income suburb of Kliptown, residents like Meisie Pope have seen little change since the ANC came to power 30 years ago. Living in shacks without access to clean water or proper sanitation, residents like Pope question the impact of their votes. The Freedom Charter, a key document of the ANC that outlines principles for governance, serves as a reminder of what the party has not achieved since transitioning into government.

ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa, who played a key role in the transition from apartheid to democracy, remains confident in the party’s ability to maintain majority power. Despite criticism from disillusioned residents and activists like Abram Tebogo Sithole, who feels the ANC only engages with communities during election season, the memory of the party as a liberation movement that brought freedom still resonates with many in South Africa.

While enthusiastic rallies and campaign events energize ANC supporters, the reality of daily life in impoverished areas like Kliptown challenges the party’s ability to maintain voter loyalty. Issues such as lack of basic services, unemployment, and ongoing power grid failures highlight the disconnect between the ANC’s promises and the lived experiences of many South Africans. As the election approaches, the question of whether the ANC can address these challenges and retain power remains uncertain.

The ANC’s long history as a liberation movement and its role in ending apartheid continue to shape its image and influence in South Africa. The promise of freedom that the party once represented has evolved into a complex political landscape marked by corruption, inequality, and continued challenges. As voters in communities like Kliptown weigh their options and consider the impact of their vote, the future of the ANC and the country hangs in the balance.

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