Battleground Gauteng: Prof Sipho Seepe says Panyaza Lesufi has made the ‘right noise’ and stands a chance



Published May 28, 2024


The African National Congress (ANC) will be given a good run for its money by opposition parties contesting for the mettle and purse of South Africa’s economic heartbeat province, Gauteng, which is also the most populous province.

In the previous elections, in 2019, the party retained the province with a razor-slim majority of 50.19% of the vote, a decline from 53.59% in 2014. The ANC was followed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) which garnered just less than 30%, and the Economic Freedom Fighters led by Julius Malema commanded just over 10% in the province.

Repeated polls and surveys have been punting the ANC led by Premier Panyaza Lesufi to fall below 50% due to growing discontent on service delivery, allegations of corruption and maladministration, and load shedding.

On the eve of the decisive national and provincial elections, IOL spoke to renowned political analyst Professor Sipho Seepe who said the ANC in Gauteng faces a real risk of building the next administration in a coalition.

Gauteng ANC leader Panyaza Lesufi who is also the premier of the province. File Picture: Timothy Bernard / Independent Newspapers

However, Seepe said the ANC has something that any other party does not have.

“The ANC, even at this moment, still has a lot of support because it has what other parties do not have. It has historical, political and social capital, and it relies on that. It is also a party of liberation compared to others. The PAC is another one, but the PAC has almost fizzled into a nonentity. The ANC still has a good chance of outperforming all other parties, but in doing so that, there is no doubt that its support is declining.

“It is a case of winning with a declining margin. Then you have parties like the DA which has consistently shown its presence in the metros, and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). Now you have the entry of the MK (Umkhonto we Sizwe) and it is also possible that if these (opposition) parties were to ignore their egos, should they want to form a coalition, the opposition parties in Gauteng can still form a coalition government. The ANC in Gauteng is facing the risk where it will not win with an outright majority – that much is known,” said Seepe.

Leader of the Umkhonto we Sizwe party nationally, former president Jacob Zuma. File Picture: Timothy Bernard / Independent Newspapers

The metros in Gauteng are run by coalitions including the DA, the ANC, the EFF, the Patriotic Alliance, and the Al Jama-ah party.

Regarding the ANC’s front-man in Gauteng, Seepe said Panyaza Lesufi has a strong brand in the province.

“He is a better performing premier compared to other premiers of the ANC. He has managed to build his own profile and he has been able to say the things that the leadership of the ANC may not be able to say. There is an element of activism on his part to try and resolve the problem. This is also something that people will appreciate,” said Seepe.

“He may not have come up with perfect solutions but the fact that he continues to try to find a solution to the challenges faced, especially by young people, is also very positive. His attitude towards small to medium enterprises operating in the township is also something that people align to.

“So, he has made the correct noise. Unfortunately, the ANC is being undermined at a national level. To that extent, he is one of the almost attractive individuals within the ANC,” said Seepe.

Professor Sipho Seepe. File Picture: Dumisani Sibeko

On Sunday, IOL attended the Democratic Alliance’s “We can rescue SA” rally where thousands of supporters of the blue party converged at the Willowmoore Stadium in Benoni.

The final rally before the elections was addressed by DA national leader John Steenhuisen and the provincial leader Solly Msimanga, who is the Gauteng Premier candidate for the opposition party.

DA Gauteng Premier candidate Solly Msimanga says the new South Africa is now worse than apartheid. Picture: Jonisayi Maromo / IOL

“Democrats, I have criss-crossed this province of ours, and I have seen first-hand what this government has done to our people. I have met people who have lost hope. I have met people saying we have put our trust in a government that has failed us. Today marks a culmination of our preparation for the national and provincial elections of May 29. As the premier candidate for Gauteng, I have travelled all the regions.

“I have seen first-hand in Hammanskraal what is happening, I have been to Toekomsrus, I have been all the way to Mohlakeng, all the way to Dobsonville, to Tsakane in the East Rand. I have been to every single place that is there,” Msimanga told jubilant supporters who filled the stadium to the brim.

Democratic Alliance (DA) Gauteng leader and premier candidate Solly Msimanga addressing a crowd of supporters in Benoni on Sunday. Picture: Itumeleng English/ Independent Newspapers

“The people are saying one thing to me – that they want change. They are saying we have given up on this government that has really failed us. We have children now that do not really know what freedom is, but they are told that they have freedom.

“I want to say, it’s not yet Uhuru. We will bring Uhuru on the May 29,” said the former executive of Tshwane.