The 3rd of August is fast approaching and all the campaign will be subjected to the final test on the day. As we are moving closer to the faithful day, the campaign will intensify. Mudslinging and accusations within the political battle grounds will even intensify further. Disapprovals, like the use of former president Mandela’s voice in the election campaign by one of the opposition parties will also continue. Even president Zuma questioned those black people who vote for the DA. Those with limited resources like the EFF and the independent candidates will likely campaign fiercely in the last two weeks. The emotional, sentimental and historical liberation political mileage that the ANC enjoys is waning. ANC leaders have also relied on historic heroism for so long. When cornered by voters, instead of quoting service delivery success stories, they resort to “Vote for Mandela”, “don’t vote for Zuma, vote for the ANC”. The liberation narrative is so strong to the point that the ANC could afford to score own goals and still win elections. From now on, the ANC cannot afford to split again, it cannot afford to elect a compromised leader in the near future. The much talked about intergenerational mix in the leadership structures should be implemented to counter the energy of the opposition.
In contrast, when the DA is questioned about their “selective” service delivery, they refer their critic to the stats SA records which ranks it high. They are vehemently selling the Cape Town service delivery story, clean governance and are ready to engage anyone on their service delivery “success”. The governing party cannot afford to lose any of Gauteng metros to the opposition. Surprisingly, the ANC is not telling its good story to the voters enough, they are begging their stalwarts like kathrada, Kgalema Monthlanthe, Mbeki and the ailing Madikizela Mandela to join their campaign. Local government is about service delivery, the governing party should be emulating their competitors in Cape Town by showcasing their deliverables. Clearly, the ANC seems to succumb to the sins of incumbency. The ANC had enough time to replicate the Soweto success story to other townships but it never happened. They are not even elaborating more on their progress in various townships where they govern. They should use the Soweto card and other successes in countering the DA, instead they accuse the DA of racism. The EFF is the new kid on the block, never governed before. I am not convinced that they will win any metro outright but they will have a “final” say as to who will govern in Gauteng.
In 2012, Joel Netshitenzhe, a member of the party’s national executive committee, alluded to the fact that the significant change in South Africa’s class structure since democracy has implications for the African National Congress. “The fundamental implication of these social dynamics is that the changing class structure within the black community happens because of opportunities in the political or public sphere,” he wrote in the ANC Today. In recent years the black middle class, largely an ANC creation, is labelled “clever blacks”. There’re no efforts or plans to keep this highly critical class within the party. The loss of the “clever blacks” to the opposition has put the ANC in a precarious position. The ANC needs to regain this class of voters to offset the minority vote which is lost to the DA. As things stands the suburban vote belongs to the DA. The class that the ANC cannot afford to lose is their traditional township voters. The DA and the EFF have made huge inroads in wooing the township votes to join their ranks and, as things stands, are winning. With the suburban vote gone, and the black middle class “clever blacks” up in the air, the ANC must win two thirds of the township votes or risk being sent packing to the opposition benches.
The Economic Freedom Fighters have made it abundantly clear that they will not work with the ANC. Should the EFF get 10% of the vote or more in Tshwane, Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni and Nelson Mandela Bay, the ANC would be in big trouble. An Ipsos survey has shown the ANC diminishing backing in these highly contested metros. According to the latest survey, the Democratic Alliance is leading the ANC marginally. Both of them are said to be below 40% currently, with the EFF trailing by just over 10%. If those permutations remain the same, the EFF could emerge a big winner. Most of the independent candidates were former ANC councillors and one cannot envisage those former comrades joining forces with the ANC. This means that inadvertently the liberal democratic alliance will likely team up with the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters to dethrone the ANC. This will lead to an interesting scenario. In effect, should the ANC and DA get less than 50% in the three Gauteng metros, the EFF can say to the DA, give us one metro and we give you two? Inevitably, voter turnout will be a crucial factor for the ANC in their quest to retain the metros which they govern. Firstly, because primarily the Economic Freedom Fighters’ voters come from the same background as those of the ANC. Secondly, the Democratic Alliance has the minority vote, and will pull their voters to the polling stations as they always do. Unlike the ANC in Gauteng, the Democratic Alliance looks to have Cape Town in the bag. They can focus on other metros knowing Cape Town is safe. Ultimately, whatever happens, the Economic Freedom Fighters looks to be holding this year’s election ACE in Gauteng.
By Sivodlo Silombo
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