ANC’s political bloodbath: Ignoring red flags alienated voters

The ANC has been believed to have ignored the red flags that led to the party’s decline in support during the general elections. Picture: Armand Hough/ Independent Newspapers

The ANC has been believed to have ignored the red flags that led to the party’s decline in support during the general elections. Picture: Armand Hough/ Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 2, 2024



THE ANC’s election results are believed to be the consequences of the governing party’s ignorance of red flags.

This was after the ANC fell short of a majority for the first time since 1994 in this week’s national and provincial elections.

Retired SA National Defence Force military intelligence chief and uMkhonto we Sizwe veteran Lieutenant General Mojo Motau said the 2021 local elections indicated what the future has “in-store” for the ANC.

Motau said, however, that the party lacked leadership with the political ability to read the situation and conviction to chart a new path forward. Motau said there was no will to change. The party will lose its parliamentary majority and with more than 97% of votes counted, the ANC had about 40%.

This would be a huge drop as the ANC has dominated the country’s politics for 30 years since the end of white minority rule in 1994.

Motau said the ANC has been warned that people have been losing confidence in the party since 2017 and that its leadership also failed to change course during the engagements in 2020.

“The election results are an indication that the ANC is out of touch with its natural constituency. The ANC has actually lost its ideological standpoint or deviated from its political programme and hence its inability to deliver change expected by the African majority in particular,” Motau said.

He said the economic situation of the African majority in townships and villages has continued to deteriorate year in and year out, adding that the party continued to adopt domestic policies and actions that have alienated it from its natural constituency.

“The role of counter-revolution forces led by the historic enemies of the African people should not be downplayed here. The outcome of these elections was predetermined. Coalition governments are meant to ensure weak governance that cannot bring about fundamental change. The future of Africans in particular is very bleak. The ANC is doomed unless it accepts that it must turn to the people,” Motau said.

Motau said the party must also accept that the departures of many of its “cadres” out of politics or forming new parties should be urgently addressed. He said a conference needs to be convened in this regard and rebuild itself to be a liberation movement rather than a bourgeois party.

With the ANC falling short of a majority, the party would be forced to negotiate a coalition with another party or parties to remain in the government. This could also affect the future of President Cyril Ramaphosa.

ANC national chairperson Gwede Mantashe and the party's first deputy secretary-general Nomvula Mokonyane yesterday said that the decline of support for the party was the views of the voters.

“A decline is voters’ views, that is why we have elections every five years. It is because we test those views… In five years’ time, we will be sitting like this again and it’s not about the ANC but about everybody else. Six independent candidates are in Parliament now. That is change,” Mantashe said.

He said his party was open to talking to anybody regarding coalitions. Mantashe further said that the performance of the ANC in the elections was not “dismal”.

“Dismal means small, you can't say dismal because we are not under 1%. Dismal must get the correct definition meaning and not your meaning,” a visibly annoyed Mantashe said.

Asked if Ramaphosa’s future was hanging in the balance, Mantashe said he was not the president and was not in the position to answer that.

Mokonyane also dismissed journalists, saying the results were not final and that the media should wait for today’s (Sunday) announcement. “The results are not yet over.”

Political analyst Professor Sethulego Matebesi also said the signs had long been there that the ANC would lose the elections and the party ignored all the red flags.

He said they had many disgruntled members due to the factional battles and some never left.

“This is a recipe for disaster, these people are hanging around and become disruptive and don’t go out (to campaign) like in the past. I also believe that the alliance partners also have to be blamed because this time they followed a completely different road.

“They came out and supported the ANC from the word go but you don’t make certain mistakes overnight in the public domain. These alliances on the eve of the elections have been threatening the ANC that they will contest the elections alone.

“Even Cosatu in the past were adamant that they would not vote for the ANC during the former president Jacob Zuma era.

“You also have a former president (Thabo Mbeki) criticising the current president and on the eve of elections he goes out and campaigns for the elections. You have a senior member resigning and later returning to the party.

“These are some of the issues that I am highlighting,” Matebesi said, adding that the disconnect between ANC and voters also contributed to the decline.

Another political analyst and governance expert Sandile Swana also said the signs have been there and getting worse. He said the party has been arrogant and acting with impunity.

Swana said the Phala Phala scandal represents a situation where the ANC defied retired Chief Justice Sandile Ngcobo when Parliament was supposed to start a committee to impeach Ramaphosa.

“All of those things have created an atmosphere that there is no trust in the ANC, by ANC members, and there is less than 40% trust in the president and all state institutions,” said Swana.

He said the high rate of people living with HIV/Aids, crime, corruption, and deteriorated education also added to this.

Professor Siphamandla Zondi said the ANC repeated the error it made in the Nkandla scandal with the Phala Phala and hoped for different results. He said this was a terrible way to project to society what renewal meant.

Associate professor at the University of the North West Dr John Molepo said there were various factors based on the different provinces, but the critical reason for the decline was the party’s internal strife.

“See how uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP) came about? They are people from the ANC. So people who voted MKP should have voted ANC. Their internal strife of how they manage issues is sad because it detaches other members while they speak about the renewal project,” Molepo said.

The IEC is largely expected to announce the final results today (Sunday).

Meanwhile, more than half of the parties contesting the 2024 elections are lodging a complaint against the IEC, saying the election process was marred by discrepancies and inconsistencies with hundreds of people not being able to vote.

The focus now shifts to the election of the president and other constitutional office-bearers.

Chief Justice Raymond Zondo has set out the roadmap to the election of the country’s next president, speaker and deputy speaker of the National Assembly, chairperson and deputy chairperson of the National Council of Provinces (NCOP) as well as premiers, speakers and deputy speakers of the nine provincial legislatures.

The Constitution requires that the National Assembly, NCOP and provincial legislatures elect the president and other constitutional office-bearers at their first sitting after the elections with the Chief Justice or another judge designated by him presiding over the election of the president.

Zondo will also determine the time and date of the election of the president but must not be more than 30 days after the position of head of state becomes vacant.

Should there be more than one candidate as is likely to be the case this year, voting will be done via secret ballot and the candidate receiving the majority of the votes must be declared elected by the Chief Justice or another judge he designates.

IFP leader Velenkosi Hlabisa said yesterday that the people of South Africa had spoken loud and clear that they want a government that is going to work together as a combination with sufficient checks and balances because the principle of using the majority was over.

”There is nothing that will be just rolled over because one political party has the majority, that is over. Now you will need to get consensus of sufficient parties in Parliament that will allow something to go on and there will be sufficient eyes now looking at all things that are done in corners, behind curtains by one political party,” Hlabisa said.

The DA will hold its federal executive meeting while the IFP’s national executive committee also meets today (Sunday) to chart the way forward for possible coalitions.