South African ANC in dire straits ahead of local poll

Members of the African National Congress (ANC) picket outside the offices of the eNCA during an anti-racism campaign on March 02, 2021 in Johannesburg, South Africa, Sharon Seretlo / Getty Images

The African National Congress (ANC), which struggles to erase Jacob Zuma’s corruption trail, is heading for South African local elections torn by internal struggles, slippery support and too broke to pay its staff.

The municipal elections on November 1 will test whether the party that liberated South Africa from the racist apartheid regime can overcome a situation so dire that its members and supporters themselves are losing patience.

While the opposition has yet to make major national inroads against the historic party that brought Nelson Mandela to power in 1994, the ANC has hemorrhaged votes over the years and stands to lose even more in the election. local, analysts and polls predict.

Asked about her party’s problems, General Secretary Jessie Duarte said this week: “The ANC will come back. The ANC always comes around.

But he has a lot to deal with.

Since the end of August, the employees of the ANC, which is said to be choking on several million dollars in debt, have been on strike and have been demonstrating sporadically to demand to be paid.

The party is so desperate for funds that it has launched a crowdfunding campaign to “generate an active interest in the livelihood of the organization.”

Hundreds of green and yellow ANC activists converged on Johannesburg from across the country on Wednesday, threatening to boycott the upcoming elections during a protest at ANC headquarters.

Their main criticism was the party’s candidate selection process, which they said took place without consulting the ANC base and saw candidates gain places on the electoral rolls through corruption.

To make matters worse, the understaffed party failed to register hundreds of candidates before the August 23 deadline, which the electoral commission has since extended, sparking outrage from the opposition.

These operational failures stem from “the ANC’s inability to contain internal factions,” political scientist Ebrahim Fakir told AFP.

President Cyril Ramaphosa clashed with followers of his predecessor Zuma, fueling divisions and acrimony.

The charismatic Zuma still has many supporters in the ANC, despite being involved in multiple corruption scandals.

CONTEXT OF RIOTS

The seemingly endless list of problems has taken its toll.

In 2019, as it won the legislative elections, the ANC recorded its worst performance in its history. Until then, he had never obtained less than 60% of the vote, but that year the party obtained 57.5%.

In local polls in 2016, he lost control of big cities like Johannesburg and Pretoria to the Democratic Alliance (DA), his main rival.

And a poll by global research group Ipsos released this week found that less than half of registered voters polled were likely to vote for the ANC in the next election.

Yet the DA has yet to make major national breakthroughs in the general electorate, held back by its image as a party for whites.

And former ANC youth leader Julius Malema, who was kicked out of the party and formed the Left Economic Freedom Fighters, is seen by many as too radical and populist.

Political scientist Ralph Mathekga stresses, however, that “it is not a question of winning or losing: the ANC will have the serious problem of a very small majority” at the national level.

Local elections will also be held just months after South Africa suffered the worst outburst of political violence since the end of apartheid.

In July, diehard Zuma supporters launched violent protests against his imprisonment.

Ordinary citizens joined them in ransacking malls and warehouses, dealing a crippling blow to the economy, which could potentially lead supporters to vote for other parties.

Ramaphosa called the riots an attempted insurgency and vowed to prosecute the instigators.

A dozen suspects have since been arrested, and several more are under investigation.

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