The dwindling support for the ANC witnessed at these local government elections could herald the party facing “national defeat” at the 2019 general elections, several analysts have advanced. Institute for Race Relations (IRR) CEO Frans Cronje said the results, which were still trickling in yesterday and expected to be officially released tonight, were “devastating for the ANC”.
“We expect that opposition parties will redouble their efforts to undermine the party on issues ranging from corruption to Jacob Zuma and South Africa’s weak economic performance,” Cronje said, adding that most of the ANC’s poor political performance could be ascribed to the economy. “If the ANC cannot secure an economic turnaround ahead of 2019, let alone if South Africa slips into recession, then the race for 2019 will be extremely close.”
Cronje said if the gross domestic product (GDP) per capita kept falling, or felt very sharply, we might even raise the prospect of a 2019 ANC defeat to a probability.
“Frighteningly for the ANC, many of its economic policies seem almost calculated to slow economic progress. We wait to see whether it can react to save itself,” said Cronje.
Meanwhile, political analyst professor Andre Duvenhage said the ANC’s poor performance in this week’s elections was a sign that the ruling party would not “rule until Jesus comes”, as earlier claimed by President Jacob Zuma. “This has been the ANC’s worst performance in an election since 1994 and, while we await the final results, if the ANC was to lose another metro, that will be a huge blow for the party,” Duvenhage told the Saturday Citizen.
“Should the ANC NEC decide that it is time for Zuma to step down, he won’t just sit back … he is going to fight back,” Duvenhage said. Another political analyst, Elvis Masoga, attributed the ANC’s poor performance to a public referendum on Zuma. “The ANC has been broken into a political grave by one man who has paralysed the ruling party’s electoral power.
“The time has come for Zuma to develop a heart and a soul and realise that it is no longer about him, but about saving the ANC, as he remains the most powerful threat to this organisation,” said Masoga.
He said those who voted against the ANC were driving a message home to the governing party, to say “you have abandoned us and concentrated on defending one man who committed many political blunders”.
“There are ANC supporters who through the elections were telling their party to stop defending one man at the expense of everyone,” Masoga said.
Meanwhile, South African research chair in social change at the University of Johannesburg professor Peter Alexander said the ANC would have to think very hard and quick about the unhappiness expressed by some within the party itself and the support for Zuma’s leadership.
“The latest results coming through from the elections are terrible for the ANC and are as a result of an existing crisis within the party.
“The longer they take to sort out the problems the party is facing, the more the ANC’s credibility will get tarnished … this election, has without a doubt, been the most difficult for the ANC,” Alexander said.