With the latest polls suggesting the ANC may lose control of many of the key metros in Gauteng, the provincial premier, David Makhura, has issued an earnest plea to voters not to abandon the party.
Some surveys suggest that ANC and national president Jacob Zuma is a key reason the more upwardly mobile, urban voters in South Africa’s economic powerhouse province may be having second thoughts about the 104-year-old governing party.
In Tshwane, Zuma is among the least popular leaders, according to Ipsos.
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The Sunday Times has reported that the premier told members of the Hellenic, Italian and Portuguese Alliance on Thursday night that he didn’t want his party to be judged “on its leader’s behaviour”.
This was in reaction to alliance members reportedly telling him that they remained confident in the ANC at the local level, but did not trust national leadership under Zuma.
Makhura reportedly told the gathering: “If you have an issue with the president of the ANC … my appeal to you is: just appreciate the level of complexity in the ANC. The ANC has had its ups and downs, but it has always been more enduring than its individual leaders. Local elections are always about voting for the municipality.”
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The ANC in the province has long been openly opposed to Zuma, and did not support his re-election in 2012 in Mangaung. They have also been opposed to nationally imposed projects such as as e-tolls, which have made the party less popular among provincial voters. The ANC saw support slide during the 2014 national elections, and it would seem that the downward trend is continuing in the lead-up to municipal elections on August 3.
Makhura has implored voters not to view the governing party through the lens of Zuma alone.
However, on Friday, former ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema, now the leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters, said in a web radio interview that the ANC would “not self-correct” and the ruling party had now been reduced to an individual, Zuma.
“The organisation has ceased to exist, and the ANC will never recover from that. Individuals become more important than institutions.
“If the individual likes the colour white, them everyone will have to change to white. The ANC has reduced South Africa to personal rule,” he told Gareth Cliff in an interview on CliffCentral.
Makhura told the Sunday paper that the ANC had been working hard to convince the crucial middle-class vote to keep faith with the party. He admitted that he’d never felt as challenged by an election campaign before, partly because of how there had been great anger and division around the finalisation of candidates.
He expressed concern at the number of ANC candidates being killed.
“It’s not normal.”