ANC's 45% poll panic

2014-03-09 14:00

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The ANC in Gauteng has asked its volunteers to intensify their mobilisation campaign in townships to avoid getting less than 50% of the vote in the polls.

This was sparked by its own internal polls, which showed it could obtain at most 45% of electoral support in the country’s economic hub.

This would be a sharp decline from the 64.4% the party won in the 2009 general elections.

The party’s internal polls, which were presented to campaigners in two separate meetings in recent weeks, suggest the party’s electoral support stands at 45% at best.

The ANC’s in-house research is in line with the findings of a recent Ipsos survey, which put the ruling party’s support in the country’s economic powerhouse at 45.5%.

This means it will need a coalition partner to govern Gauteng if the tide does not turn before May 7.

An ANC branch chairperson from the West Rand said at the meeting all delegates were asked to switch off their cellphones and make sure there was no media in the vicinity before a discussion took place on the surveys.

The branch chairperson said they were told there were three separate surveys, all of which put the ANC below 50%.

“One survey arrived at 40%, another at 43% and the last one was real bad at 36%. So it is bad. But at least there was a battle plan. The mistake we made was to underestimate Julius [Malema’s] boys.”

Despite the gloomy statistics, President Jacob Zuma told party supporters in Mabopane on Friday the ANC’s grip on the province remained firm.

“Those who say Gauteng is going to be taken by some other party are dreaming,” he said.

Earlier in the week, Zuma was booed by the crowd attending the Bafana Bafana vs Brazil match at FNB Stadium, the second time in three months he was booed at a public event.

An internal ANC Gauteng assessment presented in February last year pointed at corruption, uneven service delivery and the loss of the minority vote as factors that could cost the party votes.

Since then, e-tolls and the Nkandla debacle have developed into major issues of discontent.

The ANC in the province held a meeting two weeks ago in Turffontein, where heads of mobilisation from branches were told about the figures. ­

Another meeting was held last week with volunteers in Alberton.

A Joburg party branch leader who attended the meeting said although party leaders tried not to paint a depressing picture, they were concerned about the low support and the high number of ANC voters who remained undecided in Gauteng.

The research also revealed that 25% of loyal ANC voters had not made up their minds about voting.

Another delegate who attended the meeting said they were told to focus on disillusioned former ANC voters.

“We accepted that the opposition would obtain about 30% of the total votes cast. But our strategy is to do door-to-door campaigning. It’s difficult to measure how successful we have been because each ward is different.”

A member of the ANC provincial executive committee (PEC) blamed the ANC for not taking the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) seriously early on.

“We might find ourselves in an embarrassing situation where we have to go cap in hand, begging Julius [the EFF leader] for a coalition for us to stay in power. We brought this upon ourselves.”

But the PEC member added the research was conducted before the ANC embarked on intensive mobilisation, so improved support is expected by May 7.

A source who attended last Sunday’s meeting of volunteers and branches in Alberton said they were asked to channel their energies into campaigning for the party in the province’s 50 major townships to tip the scales in the ANC’s favour.

The initiative has been dubbed “operation Mayihlome” (gird for battle).

Another source who attended the Alberton meeting said: ­“Obviously now the plan is to tell them about our successes and the good story. Nkandla and e-tolls, those inevitably will arise, but we’ve got to tell them [voters] what we have done.”

Gauteng ANC spokesperson Nkenke Kekana refused to be drawn to talk about his party’s polls and said his party was pushing for a high voter turnout.

“Research is a tool in an election campaign, but it’s not the gospel truth. We are in touch with the ground and are mobilising our people for victory.

“We are not in a panic mode because elections are about convincing undecided voters,” he said.

A DA leader, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the party expected the ANC to obtain 49% of the vote in Gauteng.

According to the leader, the DA expected the ANC would go into a coalition with the EFF, but predicted such a coalition would be doomed to fail and would not last.

Gauteng DA leader John Moodey said if there was no outright winner, the DA would consider a coalition with a number of the smaller parties, including the Economic Freedom Fighters.

The DA’s polls put the party at about 36% in Gauteng, while a Mariknor poll last year said the EFF could get just more than 7% in the province.

Gauteng EFF leader Mgcini Tshwaku said his party would partner with any party that agrees with its seven core principles on issues such as land expropriation and nationalisation.

But ultimately, according to him, the party’s aim was to win the province and govern without coalitions.

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