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Photo: TSA Composite

Policy showdown: What the ANC, DA and EFF say about the death penalty

As the 2021 Local Elections approach, what do we think of reintroducing the death penalty? Here’s what the ANC, DA and EFF have to say.

steenhuisen malema

Photo: TSA Composite

In just a few days, South Africans will make their way to the polls in the 2021 Local Elections but how do the top three parties like the African National Congress (ANC), Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) compare when it comes to their stance on the death penalty? It may seem irrelevant since capital punishment was previously thrown out by the court but ideas regarding its possible reintroduction are the factors that could sway a vote.

Crime, including Gender-Based Violence (GBV), has been rife in South Africa bringing, to the surface, all sorts of emotions, hence some think the death penalty could help curb it or deter citizens from committing a crime in the first place. Be that as it may, there are certain parties – in our top three might I add – that is firmly against it.


The ANC has for quite some time, stuck to its guns, regarding the death penalty and the chances are very slim that they would take a different stance. ANC spokesperson, Dennis Cruywagen, kept his response short and sweet but told The South African that the Constitutional Court ruled against the death penalty years ago. He added that “we are a Constitutional state”, meaning capital punishment is not an option.

According to BusinessTech, President Cyril Ramaphosa said our constitution has enshrined the right to life.

“This means that the state should not be the one to terminate a life. The surge in criminality should be addressed in other ways rather than ending people’s lives,” Ramaphosa said when asked if the death penalty should be reconsidered.

Clare Ballard, the head of the penal reform programme of Lawyers for Human Rights (LHR) said that the conversation deflects from the actual causes of crime:

“The death penalty is not a quick fix and it does not cure crime. Every time politicians avoid confronting the complex truths about crime and punishment, we lose a vital opportunity to examine what it will take to ensure real safety for everyone.”

She added that there is no conclusive evidence that there is any relationship between the death penalty and the murder rate.


The DA did not commit to any stance regarding the death penalty, stating only that the party was governed by the Constitution.

DA spokesperson Richard Newton said; “We are a party of constitutionalism and our position is that of the South African constitution”.

The Weekend Argus quoted provincial spokesperson Daylin Mitchell as saying; “Whether we like it or not, the Constitutional Court has made a decision on capital punishment and we respect this decision, as we do any other decision of the Constitutional Court”.


When the EFF first came onto the political scene in 2013, its Commander in Chief, Julius Malema, was of the view that the death penalty should be brought back. At the time, he was quoted saying that “if the people want it back, then so be it”.

Since then, Malema, or the EFF rather, have changed their tune. African Transformation Movement member Mzwanele Manyi told SABC News that they were advocating for the death penalty and even explained why.

“We know that the constitution does not allow it but we’ll change the constitution. It cannot be that the rights are respected more than the rights of those that are being killed. Innocent people get killed every day. We’re sitting here with all the thugs in this country. Our people, women and children, are unsafe in this country because thugs are protected. People will tell you no, life to life. What about the lives of the innocent people, so we want to bring that back.”

Thereafter EFF member, Mbuyiseni Ndlozi, took to Twitter calling their stance “madness”. Ndlozi argued that if the death penalty made a comeback, only Africans would be killed.

“Madness… in the racist SA bourgeois criminal justice system, only Africans will be killed,” he said.


While parties like the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and ATM have advocated for the reintroduction of the death penalty, Ballard said it would require a lot to change what has been ruled on by the court.

“Conveniently missing from the politicking of parties such as the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and African Transformation Movement (ATM), is the hard fact that the reintroduction of the death penalty would require a challenge to a long-established and fundamental Constitutional Court judgment, and possibly an amendment to the Bill of Rights (something which can only be done with a two-thirds majority), both of which are unlikely to succeed,” she said.

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