Shorn of their most important campaign weapon, scandal-ridden former President Jacob Zuma, SA’s biggest opposition parties are turning to populism as they scramble for votes in the most competitive election since the end of apartheid. The two main challengers to the ANC are increasingly echoing the anti-immigrant and race-baiting bias that’s come to dominate politics in the US under Donald Trump and President Jair Bolsonaro’s Brazil, as well as Italy and parts of Eastern Europe. “Secure our borders” reads a campaign poster of the DA. Its spokesperson on immigration proposes a “humane” deportation programme for undocumented migrants he says are a major source of crime and who take welfare checks and anti-AIDS drugs meant for South Africans. The signature poster of the EFF features a picture of leader Julius Malema emblazoned with “Son of the Soil,” a slogan that alienates Asian, mixed-race and white South Africans. “In SA, as in many countries around the world right now, you have thi...

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