ANC goes back to black in a return to '94 campaign

2013-09-01 14:01

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Governing party’s elections machine will target the black vote and hopes to canvass 9 million unregistered voters

ANC canvassers will campaign to get black voters to the ballot box in next year’s general elections instead of wasting their time trying to convince white voters to vote for the liberation movement.

The governing party’s elections machine has gradually edged into gear over the past two months.

The ANC and its alliance partners – labour federation Cosatu and the SA Communist Party – have spent this weekend thrashing out economic policy stances ahead of the ANC’s election manifesto launch, which is expected early next year.

Next month, canvassers will begin door-to-door visits to speak to voters.

Next year is the 20th anniversary of the ANC’s reign and the party is very much aware that this is a crucial time for any liberation movement in government, ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said this week.

“We are looking at it as if this is 1994. Our plan is to touch every voter at least four times, or five times, during this campaign,” she told members of the media at a special briefing on Monday.

Duarte said the party’s polls showed a strong enough ANC presence “among our traditional support base” to increase the party’s majority.

Nine million unregistered voters will also be targeted in the campaign.

While Duarte did not define the traditional support base, a senior ANC national executive committee (NEC) member said this was mainly the poor and middle class black voters.

The party is expected to face a fierce contest for middle class votes, while the challenge with poor and particularly rural black voters is getting them registered and to the voting stations.

Another ANC NEC member said the party’s own polls showed that registration and voter turnout in the so-called white wards were high – but these wards were dominated by the DA.

In the ANC’s stronghold in traditionally black wards, very few people were registered and only a fraction of these people turned out to vote, said the NEC source.

“It is almost impossible to convince white people (who haven’t been voting for the party) to vote for the ANC, so we will probably not waste time canvassing them,” he said.

In Western Cape, the ANC is targeting blacks.

“We are mainly working in black communities and generally black (meaning coloured) communities. There is a suspicion of the DA, but there is also unhappiness with the ANC,” Duarte said.

According to an elections-analysis document by the party in Gauteng, the ANC “has enjoyed strong electoral support among the black poor and the black middle class, which has emerged on the back of its policies”.

It is gearing its policies to speak to its support base.

Documents leaked to City Press ahead of this weekend’s alliance summit, show a commitment by the party to firm up agrarian and land reform policies, and to bolster the economy to create jobs.

There will also be a push to give title deeds to people in government-built township houses, because many still do not have them.

The various pieces of land reform and development legislation are expected to be passed before the end of the year to make implementation easier after the elections.

But ANC insiders have said the term after next year – which culminates in the 2019 elections – was the one the party saw as make or break.

Medium-term plans for the next five years are focused on visibly delivering on the party’s promises. – Additional reporting by Gaye Davis

Battle plan 2014

» This article was updated after first published to make a correction.

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