Zackie Achmat Concedes Defeat, Warns of Anti-Democratic Forces

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Zackie Achmat believes that South Africa is facing uncertain times in the wake of the 2024 election results (Photo: Gary van Wyk)

Zackie Achmat, South Africa’s first out queer independent candidate to stand in a national election, will not be going to Parliament after failing to garner enough votes.

“The IEC has declared me a loser, and I fully accept that result,” Achmat said in a video on Saturday, thanking the people who voted for him.

The longtime activist, who stood for the National Assembly as an independent candidate in the Western Cape, secured more than 10,000 votes but needed a minimum of 45,000 to ensure a seat in the legislature. This was the first time that independent candidates were allowed to contest a national election.

In a statement, Achmat said: “We have lost the election by a wide margin. But my heart and head are strong because our message will win in the end.

“Our voice has reached hundreds of thousands of people in our city and many more throughout the country through the media. We have not failed in carrying a message that we need to come together to help rebuild our country.”

Achmat, however, expressed concern that South Africa faces uncertain times: “Danger awaits all of us because the ANC has failed all the people of the country, and now it will lose its majority.

“The forces of division, hate, racism, tribalism, misogyny, homophobia, and xenophobia have grown, and political parties such as MK, EFF, the Patriotic Alliance, Cape Coloured Congress, and others will now celebrate as the crisis in our country deepens. Our message of working-class unity is more important now than ever before.”

Achmat also announced that he was withdrawing his name from a joint letter to the Independent Electoral Commission over claims that a number of people who voted for him asserted that their votes were not reflecting in results reported for their voting station.

He said that any such issues would not materially affect his results and warned that “right now, anti-democratic forces aim to discredit a credible result provincially and nationally.”

Several parties have alleged voting irregularities, with disgraced former president and current head of the MK party, Jacob Zuma, threatening chaos if the IEC announced the final election results.

While not ultimately successful, Zackie Achmat’s valiant pro-queer, authentically pro-working-class campaign will be remembered as a historic moment in South African history.

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