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South African president defends 30 years of ANC government

SOUTH African President Cyril Ramaphosa has insisted that the ruling African National Congress is making progress in addressing the country’s problems.

He was giving a nearly two-hour state of the nation speech to parliament on Thursday ahead of national elections later this year.

Several polls suggest that the party once led by anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela could lose its majority this year.

The ANC has been in government as part of the Tripartite Alliance with the Communist Party and trade union federation Cosatu ever since the end of the end of white minority rule in 1994, but has seen its support gradually decline.

In his speech, Mr Ramaphosa, who was elected president in 2019, said: “Just as we cannot deny the progress South Africans have made over the last 30 years, nor should we diminish the severe challenges that we continue to face.”

He maintained throughout that South Africa was a better place than it was under apartheid, making what amounted to a call to voters to keep faith with the ANC.

The Economic Freedom Fighters, the third-biggest party in parliament, boycotted the speech after six of its top officials were suspended from the legislature this month for disrupting it last year by rushing the stage.

John Steenhuisen, leader of the official opposition Democratic Alliance, said: “Thirty years of South African democracy does not mean we should endure an eternity under the ANC.”

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