Due to historical reasons the African National Congress has millions of admirers who are not active members of the party. It is still a broad church, but it is rapidly losing the leader of the society titles. People simply love the organization and are not shy to voice their views about the on-going mayhems in the movement. Regrettably, the ANC has a tendency to ignore constituencies’ concerns, reduce legitimate concerns to political gimmicks. Even precedent Zuma poked fun of the politically unaligned black middle class, labelling them the “clever blacks”. The only black middle class views accepted by the ANC are those aligned to it politically, like the Progressive Professionals Forum. Of course, the middle class is not homogenous, but to only listen to those who agree with you perpetuates sameness. A sameness ambience in a large organization like the ANC is self-destructive and also creates falsehood popularity. The organization always talks about “unwritten” internal processes, which are inconsistently applied. A disciplinary committee which disciplines selectively alienates voters and creates unnecessary ructions as we saw with Marius Fransman in Cape Town.
For a broad change, the ANC must allow and encourage divergent views. Dissent should be embraced and used to strengthen itself. Some leaders even try to blackmail the clever blacks by reminding them that they are a making of ANC policies. These utterances demonstrates the entitlement tendency to a particular constituency. This is basically to say that don’t criticize me because I made you? Nobody owes the ANC for creating the black middle class. It was not a pro bono work, but a mandate given by the voters to the ANC to implement its policies. The party has all the right to list the black middle class amongst its good stories-to-tell list. The misguided assumption that the rural vote belongs to the ANC forever is untrue and fallacious. The IFP can attest to this phenomenon, it has seen the rural vote deserting it in favour of the ANC and NFP. Given the IFP’s recent performances, it shows that the KZN rural vote is back to the IFP arms. In provinces like Mpumalanga and the Free State, the ANC should not be fooled to think those voters are incapable of voting differently. A financially resourced and factional free Economic Freedom Fighters can take 10% from the ANC in Mpumalanga. The ANC is aware of this given the violence it mitted out when Malema was campaigning there. In fact, some of its members resorted to gun violence especially in Esikhawini in KZN and KaMaqhekeza stadium in Nkomazi.
This type of violence is a bad tactic for the ANC, it distracts the party from focusing on campaigning, and also, violence becomes the culture of dealing with internal contestations as witnessed. Research and polling institution like Ipsos should be taken seriously instead of being called agencies of the west and enemies of progress. I doubt the ANC did any research about the strength of the IFP in rural KZN. The lack of information and research about the mood and preferences of certain categories of voters led to the Deputy Secretary of the ANC to prematurely celebrate victory in Nkandla, the IFP went on to win the municipality. Surely, the party president should at least win his ward in an election. In the absence of a properly guided and informed campaigned, it was easy for the rural voters to reject the president’s party.
The challenge for the ANC is to refocus itself on being the servant of the people not the other way around. Sadly, the party’s image is damaged by its top leaders without any consequences which is accompanied by arrogant explanations. Tenderpreneurs and blessers who rely on their politically proximity to the state does a disservice to the ANC’s image. Rural voters are patient but should not be mistaken to blind loyalist signing blank cheque without reasoning. The trend indicates that the ANC is being reduced to a rural party and if it doesn’t “self-correct“, it is destined to oppositional benches nationally.
Given the DA voters culture of voting in their majority and the fact that they have the minority vote secured, they only needed a small fraction of the majority vote to force a hung parliament. Without research and the appreciation of independent polling data that is not in their favor. The ANC dismally failed to recognize that the DA had manage to secure enough black votes and the neutrals or undecided to reduce the might ANC under 50%. This was aided by the fact that the economic freedom fighters constituency is the offspring’s of the traditional ANC voters. They basically fish from the same pond except for the fact that the lion share still belongs to the ANC. The ANC’s power or historical objective to make a different and deliver a better life for all has been stopped at least for the next five years.
By Sivodlo Silombo
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