For Whom the Bell Tolls - the ANC Bleeding

2016-08-07 08:17

Isn’t it interesting?

Even as results from the local government elections of August 3rd were still coming in on Thursday morning the following News24 currency indicators came up on computer screens:

Rand $ 13,71

Rand GBP 18,01

Rand Euro 15,27

All showed our currency strengthening. Now, provided you are not an ANC adherent that is shorthand for “good news” because our enfeebled rand just got a bit stronger as the governing party weakened dramatically in elections for control of the nation’s towns and metros. That is an instructive correlation - which had, to a large extent been anticipated.

Some commentators had suggested prior to the election that a drop in ANC popular support to less than 60% would be significant but of no particular consequence; a drop to 56-58% could raise some eyebrows - but a figure of 55% or less would make people sit up and take note. It might even impress financial markets.

The ruling party ended up on 53,9%.

Even more interesting is the rapidity of this trend.

Here are some examples.

• Between 2000 and 2016 the ANCs municipal electoral support in Tshwane/ Pretoria trended at five yearly intervals as follows – 56,3%; 56,35%; 55,32%; and 41,27%. That is over fifteen percentage points down.

• In Cape Town, the same story - with the ANC declining from 38% to 24%; In PE from a shade under 66% to just 41% and in the Johannesburg metro from just under 59% to 44%.

Even more remarkable is the general decline of between fifteen and twenty percentage points across a broad assortment of towns, cities and wards since 2011.

No doubt the Zuma Effect added speed to an already existing trend.

As corroborating evidence it is also worth comparing the ANC share of the vote in the 2014 general elections versus the current elections - 62% versus 54%. That is a full eight percentage points in just two years.

It is a trend gathering momentum.

And (surprisingly for many) it does not preclude poorer areas. Some random examples make the point.

In Ward 18, Khayelitsha the ANC share of the vote declined from 89,4% in 2011 to 71,1%, whilst the DA’s share grew from 1,7% to 12,8%, and the EFF garnered 9,8%. In the adjacent ward – Ward 35 – similar trends were in evidence; the ANC declined over the last 5 years period from 88,5% to 78,5% and DA grew to 11,7%, whilst the EFF took 6,4%. And in Ward 24 Johannesburg, the ANC declined from 85,3% to 64,3% whilst the DA grew from 3,4% to 5,5% and the EFF seized 17,7%.

The decline of the ruling party is pervasive – and constitutes a “pincer” movement from left and centre from which there is no obvious escape.

This begs the million dollar question – what is the ANC going to do? And that in turn raises issues at two levels - the one immediate and tactical, the other strategic and far more important.

The immediate issue is how to govern by coalition – for which there are no ready answers.

Each town and metro’s outcome will be determined by give and take, with an abundance of horse trading having to take place. Instability and friction are inevitable and we can only hope that citizens do not pay too high a price for stubborn political ambition.

Uncharacteristic political maturity will be called for.

The second issue is strategic and will go to the very heart of the ruling party’s moral compass. It will address the question - how does the ANC win back lost voters?

It can choose one of two options.

The first strategy option is - let them eat cake. This implies showering voters with benefits to win them back. Examples might include higher minimum wages; bigger grant payments and social benefits and improved service delivery. But these all cost money and require human capital that the ANC lacks. Already, too many cadres and fat cat civil servants earning huge salaries fill government job ranks in sinecures or insubstantial employment roles.

They are overpriced, flabby and unproductive - so where would government find the capacity for improved delivery?

The other strategy option is to level with the voters and pursue economic growth and full employment in an open, unprotected political economy, leaving the resulting outcomes to run their course. This would entail the ANC alienating friends in the trade union movement, the Communist Party and countless beneficiaries of government patronage. This would be the spring clean option.

It would also necessitate an overhaul of the nation’s top leadership.

Does the ANC have the stomach for either?

The ruling party has painted itself into an invidious and predictable corner by following its impulses of greed, entitlement, patronage and choosing race preference politics over merit, objective achievement and a spirit of free enterprise. The result is that now too many levers of state, government departments and state enterprises are simply “broken” - and possibly unfixable.

But for many of us that could be good news. Because at the current rate of decline in ANC voter support we might never need to concern ourselves with how they attempt to fix it. Someone else will.

Roll on 2019.

News24 Voices Terms & Conditions


AB praises selfless skipper

2010-11-21 18:15

Join the conversation! encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.