What is it?

Manifesto Meter is a tool created by News24 to empower South African voters to engage and compare the manifestos of political parties. This portal will be updated when parties release their manifestos ahead of the 29 May general elections.

From ‘great strides’ to ‘country in crisis’: Election manifestos of ruling ANC and opposition parties are... polls apart

Jan Gerber

Considering the manifestos already released by political parties in the run-up to the 29 May elections, one would be forgiven for being under the impression that the governing ANC and opposition parties are heading to different polls.   

While the ANC looks through rose-tinted glasses at the “incredible strides” South Africa has made over 30 years of democracy, while acknowledging that there have been “mistakes and setbacks”, the opposition parties paint a bleak picture of a country on the brink, in urgent need of saving – with their manifestos holding the keys to the lifeboats.

In his message on the ANC’s manifesto, President Cyril Ramaphosa says the country has come a long way.

“We have made incredible strides and achieved so much. However, even after 30 years of freedom and democracy, our journey towards the South Africa that our people truly desire is far from over,” he says.

“We still have more hills to climb. In the 2024 elections, we will therefore go beyond celebrating accomplishments. We learn from the past, from mistakes and setbacks, as we learn from achievements.”

The ANC’s manifesto has six priorities:

  • jobs;
  • building industries to include an inclusive economy;
  • tackling the high cost of living;
  • investing in people;
  • defending democracy and advancing freedom;
  • and building a better Africa and world.

While the manifesto doesn’t really chart a new policy course, Ramaphosa sums the ANC’s offering up as follows: “We will do better, we will do more, and we will do it faster. Together.”

As the ANC has done of late, Ramaphosa claims that “there are forces that seek to use this election to undo the progress of democracy”.

During the debate on his State of the Nation Address in February, Ramaphosa and the ANC speakers in the debate sought to portray opposition parties’ criticism as an attempt to reverse the gains of the past 30 years.

“It is crucial that together we defend our hard-won freedom. By renewing the mandate of the ANC, we build on the foundations of the 30 years of freedom. We continue the journey towards a better life with equal opportunities for all South Africans, now and into the future. Together, we will accomplish so much more,” the president of the ruling party said.

The manifesto acknowledges that over the past five years, “the country faced internal and external challenges, including economic downturns, the effects of state capture, the Covid-19 pandemic, load shedding, global political conflict, the July 2021 unrest and climate change”.

“This has tested our democracy, resilience and leadership. Despite these hurdles, we have focused our efforts on mitigating their impact and paving the way for recovery and job creation,” reads the manifesto, which doesn’t state that the ANC was central to state capture and the collapse of Eskom, and that its former president Jacob Zuma’s incarceration was the spark that set the July 2021 unrest alight.

“Now, South Africa stands at a crossroads. Choosing transformation requires bold policies, collective action and widespread commitment. Only then can the nation claim its economic destiny and build a future where prosperity is shared by all,” Ramaphosa said.

The ANC’s offering is, thus, to continue on the same path of the past 30 years, just “better, more and faster”.

Enter the opposition.

The introduction to the DA’s manifesto reads: “Our country is in crisis.”

“After just 30 years in government, the ANC has eroded state institutions through cadre deployment, corruption, and criminality. As a result, we no longer have a reliable power supply, crime is out of control, too many children cannot read and write at the required level, there are water shortages all over the country, our ports are failing, and our towns and cities are in decay. These problems have killed South Africa’s economic growth prospects and ability to create jobs.”

The DA claims it has a plan to “rescue South Africa from state collapse”.

“We will start fixing what is broken in government by abolishing cadre deployment, firing corrupt officials and appointing competent people with the skills to deliver services. We will build a capable state to partner with the private sector and civil society to rescue South Africa. This ‘whole-of-society’ approach has worked in every place we already govern, and we plan to replicate it across the country to get South Africa moving in the right direction,” it says.

While the ANC has “six top priorities”, the DA has “seven apex priorities”:

  • creating two million jobs;
  • ending load shedding and water shedding;
  • halving the rate of violent crime;
  • abolishing cadre deployment in favour of merit-based appointments for a capable state;
  • lifting six million people out of poverty;
  • tripling the number of Grade 4 pupils who can read for meaning;
  • and ensuring quality healthcare for all.

In its manifesto, the ANC isn’t shy to mention what it has achieved in government. The DA’s manifesto is also replete with mentions of what it has done in the Western Cape and the municipalities it governs.

The DA further states: “The ANC’s promise of race-based empowerment has failed. Instead, it has created a small group of politically connected people who benefit at the expense of the majority. South Africa remains the most unequal country in the world.

“Instead of getting better, inequality has gotten worse under the ANC government. The time has come to empower people based on material disadvantage, not skin colour. To rescue South Africans from poverty and inequality, we need to remove race as a consideration in policy and legislation, increase the child grant to the food poverty line, and expand the basket of essential food items exempt from Value Added Tax (VAT).”

One of the new entrants into the South African electoral maelstrom, Rise Mzansi, sums up the coming election as a choice over whether the ANC government should continue, or whether it is time for a new one.

“We believe that the time has come to elect a new government. We believe the governing ANC has run out of ideas, goodwill and steam. Some of the tasks of governing, such as running a hospital or a state company properly, do not need a new idea. They need people who will choose to lead ethically and professionally for the common good,” wrote the fledgling party’s leader Songezo Zibi in Rise Mzansi’s manifesto.

“A great many of our problems are caused by a failure to get the basics right, to do things for the common good, to take care of government finances, or to appoint competent people to important roles. In such an environment, new ideas become useless when the same people of bad faith and intentions govern,” he said.

“The failure of leadership and governance is why we devote so much attention to the theme of leadership in this Manifesto. Societies that progress and uplift their people do so because they have good leaders and systems, not just great ideas. It is also nearly impossible to produce good, implementable ideas when there is no leadership that can convert those ideas into reality.

“Poor leadership has also delayed, at great cost, our shared dream of becoming an equal, non-racial society. Non-racialism demands that we seek to end discrimination and the structural inequalities that are the outcome of our past. The goal of ending discrimination is a shared one.

“Therefore you will also note that there are several instances where we specifically use race, gender and other classifications for policy interventions. This is absolutely necessary in order to measure and manage the specific inequalities that result from past and ongoing discrimination. It must not be construed to mean that anyone who does not belong to that racial or gender group will have less rights or basic entitlements.”

While the DA and Rise Mzansi manifestos are responses to the malaise left by the ANC over the last two decades, the EFF takes a more historical, and more ideologically loaded view of the country’s current quandary.

“The year 2024 marks exactly 30 years since the first inclusive elections in South Africa. As observed in the Founding Manifesto of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the political inclusion in South Africa has hardly translated into observable economic benefits for the majority of the people who were oppressed and exploited under colonialism-cum-apartheid,” reads the foreword to its manifesto by its “the president and commander-in-chief”, Julius Malema.

“Black people remain landless, they remain on the margins of economic production and outside of life-enhancing economic participation. The majority of those that participate in the economy do so as suppliers of cheap and easily disposable labour. Landlessness and joblessness among black South Africans are at crisis levels, posing the biggest challenges that confront South African society today,” he said.

“South Africa is trapped in a vicious cycle of underdevelopment, underperformance and an unpredictable future due to incompetent, directionless, and visionless government. In 2024, South Africa is confronted with a crisis of loadshedding caused by a government that is unable to guarantee dependable and reliable electricity generation, transmission, and distribution to the entire society. While focusing on clear, implementable, and decisive programmes for all spheres of governance, the EFF’s emphasis for the 2024 general elections will be on LAND, JOBS and ELECTRICITY. Consequently, the EFF’s theme for the 2024 elections is: OUR LAND AND JOBS NOW. STOP LOAD SHEDDING!”

“More fundamentally, the emphasis on NOW is because we cannot postpone the true liberation of our people from economic apartheid. We are not part of the 1994 elite pact. We are a completely new generation, with new demands. And our demands, unlike those of the 1994 generation, will not be postponed. We refuse to be silenced with so-called reconciliation. We want justice now. We want our land now. We want jobs now. We demand the economy NOW!

“It is our considered view that the political change-over in 1994, did not bring true liberation. It was a bluff which continues to subject black people to economic and social apartheid. This economic apartheid must end now. The demand for land and jobs now is the demand to end apartheid because it is now evident that apartheid did not end in 1994. We are not part of the CODESA and the 1994 transitional compromises, which only focused on taking over political office without the control of the economy. We are a generation that is fighting for true economic emancipation NOW!”

And how do the EFF want to achieve “true economic emancipation NOW?” The answer could be summarised in one word: nationalisation.

The ideological chasm between the two largest opposition parties is very wide and very deep. While the DA wants to work towards “a capable state to partner with the private sector and civil society”, the EFF wants to nationalise almost everything, from the Reserve Bank and land, to even the music industry.

This chasm is perhaps best illustrated by their approaches to fixing load shedding.

The DA wants to unbundle Eskom to establish an open electricity market. They want to move Eskom away from power generation as far as possible and establish the remaining part of Eskom responsible for transmission into a separate grid and market operator. It wants to ensure a diversified and competitive energy sector, including newly established public and private generators, Independent Power Producers (IPPs) and municipal generators, and increase the usage of renewable energy sources.

The EFF will invest in repairing the existing power generation fleet by adopting “clean coal technologies". It wants to reduce the electricity demand of major users, including revoking preferential tariff deals for certain corporations. It says it will terminate all existing contracts with IPPS and halt the rollout of a new independent power producer project. The party also wants to establish a state-owned coal mine and forge global cooperation, “particularly with the Russian Federation, to establish a nuclear power plant under a sensible power purchase agreement”. The proposed Russian nuclear plant appears to be one of the things they won’t nationalise.

The ANC, meanwhile, stated that over the past five years, it has “taken decisive measures to end load shedding”.


Manifesto Meter allows you to compare manifesto promises of political parties on key metrics. Scroll down for all the parties or filter by metrics of your choice:

  • Click on the party name to see a specific party's manifesto breakdown; or
  • Select the relevant category from the drop-down menu to see what different parties say on a similar topic.
  • Click or tap on the card to expand.

Read more



Mpumelelo Mkhabela | DA still remains far from being elected to national govt on its own

The DA's choice of venue to launch its manifesto – a stone’s throw from the Union Buildings – was meant to communicate a message that the party is closing in on the governing ANC. Yet leader, John Steenhuisen's foreword to the manifesto confirms that the DA's path to power hinges on coalition permutations, writes Mpumelelo Mkhabela.

Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

Mpumelelo Mkhabela | EFF puts decent proposals on the table, except when it comes to the economy

The EFF has interesting proposals in its 2024 election manifesto, except when it comes to the economy, where a booby trap is laid out clearly, writes Mpumelelo Mkhabela.

Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

Mpumelelo Mkhabela | Self-imposed 'mistakes' will make 29 May the ANC's most difficult hill to climb

For every promise the ANC makes in the 2024 manifesto – including creating jobs, economic growth, fighting poverty, rebuilding local government, fighting crime and corruption, improving healthcare and education, building state capacity and expanding access to water – there’ll be a legitimate question about why the party didn't perform well, writes Mpumelelo Mkhabela.

Rise Mzansi/Supplied

Rise Mzansi/Supplied

Ebrahim Harvey | Rise Mzansi fails to acknowledge SA's deeply systemic and structural challenges

While Rise Mzansi is looking in the right direction in its election manifesto, such as considering corruption, they clearly have a blind spot on the underlying systemic causes of the current pervasive socioeconomic crisis in South Africa, writes Ebrahim Harvey. 

Further coverage of party manifestos

Amanda Khoza/News24

Amanda Khoza/News24

WATCH | We accompanied a 'Tintswalo' to the ANC's manifesto launch - here's what happened

Meet Abigail Govender, a devoted 34-year-old ANC supporter from Isipingo, KwaZulu-Natal. On Saturday, News24 spent the day with Govender, travelling with her in a taxi to Moses Mabhida Stadium to attend the ANC's manifesto launch.

Brenton Geach/Gallo Images

Brenton Geach/Gallo Images

It is official: There will be no BEE transformation policies should the DA be elected to govern

Under a DA-government, black economic empowerment policies will be scrapped and replaced with internationally-recognised sustainable development goals (SDGs).

Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

Darren Stewart/Gallo Images

'No room for sell-outs': EFF aims to win 2 million votes in Gauteng and KZN

The EFF is gunning for 2 million votes in Gauteng and KwaZulu-Natal – 1 million apiece. A senior leader believes that if the EFF wins these votes, the ANC will lose the upcoming general election. 

Laird Forbes/Gallo Images

Laird Forbes/Gallo Images

Inside Rise Mzansi's manifesto: End corruption, reduce Cabinet size, and ban blue-light brigades

Tackling corruption, fixing the economy, and reducing the number of Cabinet ministers are just some of the proposals that Rise Mzansi has put forward to woo voters in the upcoming 2024 election.



Elections 2024: UDM manifesto prioritises youth empowerment, reaffirms anti-corruption stance

The United Democratic Movement (UDM) will reintroduce voluntary national service in the army and other state institutions should the party win the upcoming elections. 

It is part of what the UDM, in its plan of action, deems "pro-active" and "deliberate" steps to ensuring that young people are employed and not idling.

Gallo Images/Lubabalo Lesolle 

Gallo Images/Lubabalo Lesolle 

'2024 is about change': Maimane launches jobs plan as part of BOSA's manifesto

"If you want a job in your home, BOSA is your home. If you want a community that is safe, BOSA is your home. If you want a job in every home, BOSA is your home."

This is the message that Mmusi Maimane, the leader of Build One South Africa (BOSA) is going to be taking to voters ahead of the upcoming general elections.

Amanda Khoza/News24

Amanda Khoza/News24

IFP invokes memory of Mangosuthu Buthelezi at launch of party's election manifesto

The presence of the late IFP leader Inkosi Mangosuthu Buthelezi was felt when the party delivered its election manifesto at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Sunday. 



'Bring back death penalty': We will not be politically correct for our stance on law, order - ATM head

An ATM-led government will bring back the death penalty, but not only that, it will also encourage police officers to shoot to kill criminals as part of bringing law and order to South Africa.

This is what the party will be selling to voters, among others, as it canvasses for votes ahead of the 29 May elections.

(Deaan Vivier/Gallo Images)

(Deaan Vivier/Gallo Images)

Mashaba unapologetic about plans to 'secure borders' as ActionSA launches manifesto

ActionSA president Herman Mashaba received the loudest cheers from party supporters when he unveiled plans on how his party will deal with "porous borders".

Jan Gerber/ News24

Jan Gerber/ News24

Elections 2024: GOOD goes BIG as De Lille promises R999 basic income grant for jobless citizens

Veteran politician Patricia de Lille has based her GOOD party’s manifesto launch on the promise of a R999 basic income grant, should they be elected to government.

Ziyaad Douglas/Gallo Images

Ziyaad Douglas/Gallo Images

SOS: ACDP manifesto pledges service, order, security, reaffirms support for Israel

The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) delivered a 14-page manifesto that it said was grounded in service, order, and security.


Click or tap on the relevant party logo to access their full manifesto:

Your support affords us the time and resources to produce
rich, in-depth journalism that matters.

Journalist | Jan Gerber
Subbing | Glenn Bownes
Production & graphics | Sharlene Rood
News24 Assistant Editor: Politics and Opinion | Qaanitah Hunter

Photo credits: Gallo Images/Darren Stewart | Gallo Images / Lefty Shivambu | Gallo Images / Laird Forbes | Amanda Khoza/News24 |
Gallo Images/Brenton Geach | UDM/X | @ourda/X | Rise Mzansi/Supplied | Gallo Images/Lubabalo Lesolle