ANC scared of losing Gauteng

2013-06-02 14:00

As election fever mounts, ANC and DA strategise for votes in the country’s economic powerhouse.

With less than a year to go to the national elections, both the DA and the ANC have identified ­Gauteng as their greatest prize.

The ANC wants to increase its electoral support in the country’s economic powerhouse to 65%, while the DA has set its sights on increasing its support to more than 43%.

Publicly, the ANC is downplaying any threat posed by the DA or other rival groupings such as Mamphela Ramphele’s Agang.

Behind the scenes, though, the governing party has acknowledged the obstacles to a resounding victory in Gauteng come the 2014 elections.

A document written by ANC Gauteng researchers reveals what’s troubling the governing party. The document, which was presented to the ANC’s Gauteng legislature caucus in February, reads: “The days of two-thirds majorities nationally are over. The days of winning Gauteng automatically are drawing to a close. Even a dip in our support will energise the opposition massively.”

It also speaks extensively about the black middle class, which makes up a quarter of Gauteng’s black residents.

“The black middle class and first-time voters of five years ago who voted Cope are not coming back to the ANC but going DA. There is a clear and present danger that we have lost or are losing the black middle class,” the document reads.

“Cope may be dead in the water, the DA is still seen as white-led, but what will Agang do? The black and white middle class will love it. How do we ensure that it fractures the opposition rather than cement it?”

The ANC in Gauteng was the first to launch its 7?000-strong electoral volunteer corps, an ­army of foot soldiers to take the party’s message to ordinary voters across the province.

Gauteng’s elections manager, ANC provincial executive committee member Qedani Mahlangu, has denied that the party has been pushed into launching an early campaign.

She said the party wanted more than the 64% of the vote it got in the 2009 general elections.

“Whether the opposition has a chance or not, we are not interested. All we are interested in is keeping in touch with the voters,” Mahlangu said.

She downplayed the impact of issues such as e-tolling and corruption on the willingness of the province’s middle class to vote ANC next year. “I don’t think e-tolling is a big issue from where we stand because the government has made serious concessions. Overall, we don’t think the issues raised by the middle class are insurmountable.”

The party must also fight for Gauteng’s youth vote. Mahlangu said it would pitch its message to the 2 million first-time voters born in 1993 and later.

She would not offer a decisive answer when asked what the party offered this segment of the province’s electorate.

The DA, meanwhile, is gunning for a huge leap in its Gauteng support at the 2014 polls.

In the previous general election, the party got nearly 22% of the vote in Gauteng and is targeting more than 43% of votes in the province next year. It obtained 33% of the vote during the 2011 municipal polls.

DA national spokesperson Mmusi Maimane said the party ran qualitative and quantitative research “to get a sense of the market”, and spoke to voters to understand their challenges.

Mike Moriarty, one of the DA’s public representatives in the Gauteng provincial legislature, said: “We are the only party that can challenge the ANC. I don’t think there’s any other party that has the kind of membership and organisation that the DA has. So we are the logical alternative in terms of being able to go toe to toe with the ANC on the scale and magnitude that is going to be required to overtake the ANC.”

Despite its growth, the DA is yet to become the alternative government it often projects itself as, and its leadership is yet to appeal strongly to black voters enough to overtake the ANC.

Critics point out that the ­service-delivery track record the DA boasts about has hardly ­filtered through to the poor areas of the Western Cape.

Maimane said the DA’s concern was to “show South Africa how we fought apartheid in the past and how we are redressing the legacy of apartheid”.

“We are doing this where we govern through improving the lives of people who were disadvantaged by apartheid.”

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