It is sad when a party loses talented people. It is sadder when one has worked for decades to build a party to see it teetering on the brink of a major setback.
ANC flag at the party's national policy conference. (Video screengrab)
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The polling company Ipsos has release
interesting results showing how South Africans would vote if elections were to
be held tomorrow. The survey shows that if South Africa were to go into
elections now, the ANC would attain 47% of the votes while the DA can expect
21%, and the EFF would have to settle for 5%.
We can all agree that at this
point the ANC would indeed struggle to attain over 50% of the votes. The ANC
is confronted with negative sentiments that have to do with the spread of
corruption and poor leadership within the party, among other challenges. Most
of the problems experienced by the ANC however are own goals that the party
cannot blame anyone for.
What I found interesting about the results of the
polls is how the opposition parties are actually failing to benefit from the
demise of the ANC. The polls show that the DA and the EFF are not only failing
to grow, but the two parties would actually lose support.
I do not expect
the EFF to grow substantially in the next elections, unless the party changes
course and becomes moderate on some of the issues they are known to stand for. By
retaining the third position after the DA and the ANC, the EFF would become the
first party in post democratic South Africa retain the third position in two
consecutive general elections.
Consolidating its position as the third dominant
party in SA would be a big achievement for the EFF given the fact that in the
last three general elections, no political party has consolidated itself as the
third dominant party in the country; third position political parties are
rotated every election.
The DA actually
comes out very badly in the polls, showing a 1% decline in terms of electoral
support. The DA moved from just over 12% of electoral support in 2004 general
elections, to 16% in 2009, and therefore 22% in 2014 elections. Ipsos's
survey is saying the DA is now sitting on 21%; a 1% drop from recent general
elections (2014). This shows for the first time that the DA is unable to grow;
it’s losing support. What makes a 1% drop for DA a significant shift is that
it would be taking place at the time when growth is clearly expected; thus
during the highest point of crisis for the ANC. If the DA is polling so poorly
at this point, they should be very worried how things might turn out for them
if President Jacob Zuma leaves office timeously.
If Zuma leaves
office immediately after the elective conference of the party in December, the
DA will have serious difficulties holding onto the 21% electoral support that
Ipsos is talking about. This situation is worrying; it says despite internal
problems within the ANC and corruption scandals the party is engulfed in; the
opposition parties are still unattractive to voters. The DA is aware that it
would take a great deal of work to stretch Zuma's misdemeanors towards the
2019 elections if he leaves after the ANC elective conference.
If Zuma goes,
the DA will find it difficult to keep on lurching on Zuma mistakes. The party
would have failed on capitalising on Zuma mistakes even whilst he was busy
committing those mistakes.
The question that remains unanswered is why is it
that the opposition in South Africa do such a poor job when it comes to
converting ANC mistakes into long term political strategies?
As for the EFF,
they may use their 5 % as an olive branch to return home to the ANC, it’s not
unthinkable, after all Zuma will be gone and the whole thing can be written off
as big misunderstanding. This is how one Jacob Zuma would have become a cold
case in South African politics.
- Ralph Mathekga is a Fellow at the SARChI Chair: African Diplomacy and
Foreign Policy at the University of Johannesburg and author of When Zuma Goes. Disclaimer:
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