South Africa


Hell Inc — In 2024, the ANC will have to pay for the local governance mess it created

Hell Inc — In 2024, the ANC will have to pay for the local governance mess it created
A defaced election poster of President Cyril Ramaphosa is seen outside a voting station in Alexandra township, Johannesburg, South Africa, 7 May 2019. (Photo: EPA-EFE / Kim Ludbrook)

The standard of living continues to decline for the majority in South Africa, and one of the biggest reasons is local governance issues. Despite strong statements on this from President Cyril Ramaphosa, it is extremely unlikely that it will change in the near future. As a result, it is likely that the ANC will be judged on how its councillors have behaved. Those judgments can only be harsh on the ruling party and could cost it power in the national elections.

Ten days ago, President Cyril Ramaphosa framed the failure of councils to provide proper services as a human rights issue.

He was talking specifically about water services and all others which have a direct impact on voters’ daily lives.

It is clear that almost every South African has found that their lived experience and the “services” they receive from the government have declined dramatically in the last three years.

While perhaps the most important problems in this regard are electricity and the rising crime (and particularly murder) rate, almost all of the other issues emanate from local government failures.

These include water outages, potholes, a lack of sanitation and refuse removal, and so many other failures. 

There can be no doubt of the ANC’s primary culpability in this. 

First, there is plenty of evidence, particularly from reports by the Auditor-General, that it is the governance of the ANC which is to blame.

Then there is the strange, but politically potent comment by the leader of the ANC, Ramaphosa himself, last year.

While opening the ANC’s policy conference in July 2022 he said (from 1:08): 

“Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, who has the responsibility as the Minister of Cooperative Governance, always says to us … President, the problem of the state of local government is us as the African National Congress. We are the problem. We are the ones who are causing the problems, and as a result, communities protest. And when they protest for lack of service delivery and many other problems, they are protesting against us.”

It is, by any measure, an extraordinary admission of guilt by the leader of the party that it is responsible for what has happened. And it was, perhaps, a ploy by Ramaphosa to bring Dlamini Zuma in as the one also believing that the ANC was responsible.

During that address, Ramaphosa went further, saying many of the problems in local government come at the interface of politicians and administrators. In other words, there is no clear line between party and state in councils.

This is well known and generally accepted as a fact of life in South Africa.

There are many stories of people applying for a cleaning job at a municipality who needed political support to get the position. A position which can change the life chances of their entire family.

While Ramaphosa has made this admission and also accepted that the ANC’s failure in councils amounts to an abuse of human rights, it is clear that neither the President nor the ANC will be able to fix it.

Take, for example, the incredibly broken council of Ditsobotla, a place which has become a symbol of the lived experience of political dysfunction.

No water, no way out: Ditsobotla’s downfall and the collapse of government

There, after years of ANC “governance” (including a period in which there were two ANC mayors and two ANC Speakers), the party fell to just 39% in a poll last year. In the end, the Patriotic Alliance, through a deal with several other parties including the ANC, was able to secure the position of mayor.

They gave that position to Elizabeth Lethoko.

She said she was so upset by a planned act of “corruption” by the ANC in the council that she resigned immediately.

The next day she retracted her resignation.

Perhaps the fact that she had been convicted of fraud when she was the ANC’s mayor aided her recovery from the intense shock she had received the day before.

As mentioned, in her recent past, she had been convicted of fraud, while she was the ANC’s mayor in the council.

She is now the mayor again. With the active connivance of the ANC.

A pastor steps in

Meanwhile, on Friday, the ANC in Waterberg, in the Thabazimbi Local Council in Limpopo, went ahead with the swearing-in process of a mayor. As SABC News reported, no magistrate would conduct the ceremony, saying that there were still legal processes to be completed.

So, instead, a local pastor was pressed into service.

This means that representatives of the governing party and a person who professes to be a religious leader have committed a plainly illegal act, in a ceremony which will surely be found to have no legal standing. (Did they equate it to a marriage ceremony? — Ed)

In the past, this kind of politics appeared to be confined to smaller rural councils. Now, again largely thanks to the ANC’s “governance”, it has arrived in Gauteng’s metros. 

The party in Gauteng is working with the EFF. But from what is currently understood, ANC leaders will not allow them to vote for an EFF mayor. As the EFF will in turn not vote for an ANC mayor, a minority party candidate was elected in Joburg, and another may soon be elected in Tshwane (again…).

The Gauteng ANC leader, Premier Panyaza Lesufi, has admitted that discussions in the ANC about this issue are very difficult. But he has not confirmed whether, in fact, Ramaphosa himself objected to a deal with the EFF in an ANC meeting. That would be the very same EFF which tried to paralyse South Africa on 20 March while protesting against Ramaphosa’s record. (Ramaphosa happens to be ANC president.)

All of this is happening in public, and voters are very aware of the dynamics and of how these parties are scheming to get into power. They are also, presumably, aware of the divisions within the ANC on this.

It has been reported that the ANC could lose votes because it is working with the EFF, while the EFF could well lose votes because it is working with the ANC.

All of this underscores Ramaphosa’s problem.

He is aware, on the one hand, that how councils are run may well cost the ANC next year’s elections.

And on the other, it is the actions of people in his own party that are making it difficult to resolve those very same local council problems.

It is highly unlikely that this contradiction will be resolved before next year’s elections. There are probably only two ways for the ANC to win that poll: it must either actually make a difference in people’s lives, or give voters a strong reason for hope or a belief that things will change.

Neither of these is likely to happen. Despite Ramaphosa’s warnings, the ANC will definitely be judged on its performance in local government in the national elections. The mess they got themselves into might be the very same mess that gets them below 50%. The kind of Faustian deal they will have to make to stay in power may well define South Africa’s future.

As in so many countries before, beware of the liberation movement on the verge of losing after many decades in power. Hell has been the outcome way too many times. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • William Stucke says:


  • Easy Does It says:

    The “average” is 25 years before a revolutionary party in power a country loses that power. Zim and SA are now above that average. I have to agree that 2024 will be that moment for South Africa. If all those smaller parties could join the top 3 or maybe 4 parties, we will have a clearer picture of how our democracy can work. It would be fair see OneSA, DA, ANC and EFF.

  • David Walker says:

    It is not just local government where the ANC has brought destruction. Just think of all the SOE’s, Eskom, Transnet, PRASA, Denel, SAA etc etc. Then think of our government health systems, and education systems. And now even in foreign affairs they have managed to alienate our most important trading partners in the democratic world by siding with a brutal authoritarian invader. Is there anything they have not destroyed? Perhaps SARS – the one thing that needs to function in order for their looting to continue?

  • Barry Taylor says:

    I do not agree that the anc will pay but I wish and hope that I am wrong
    Unfortunately the voting cattle in the rural areas will continue to vote for the anc due to the radio and TV propaganda they hear everyday and teh limited understanding of politics and the corruption in the beautiful country and teh loyalty to the anc who has made them free

    • Ron Ron says:

      You have hit the nail on the head. The new totalitarians often do not have a single “great leader”, they rely on the fact that the masses are easily conned and the government of the day has the megaphone. They also get to count the votes. The perennial joke about next year’s election results being stolen, is actually not so much a joke anymore.

      • Roelf Pretorius says:

        What makes you think that the “masses are easily conned”? Ever thought about the possibility that no opposition party have been able to prove that they are a viable alternative? And in case you think the DA is, then why are they unable to resolve the 23% of water in Cape Town that are disappearing through leaks? Or the fact that the housing crisis in the same Cape Town is the biggest from any municipality in the country? And just look at the DA response when Patricia de Lille, as mayor, wanted to do something about it? Because the water crisis is the most existential issue in the country at the moment and almost led to Cape Town running out of it (yet the leaks were not fixed) and the housing crisis in SA is a potential time bomb, while ample solutions exist if the political will can just be found. Add to that the fact that all the opposition parties, including the DA, effectively supported the corrupt (Fraser) against the honest in the Phala Phala issue, and ask yourself again which one it is, the voters or the opposition that are easily conned . . .

    • Derrick Kourie says:

      If you search Youtube for a Biznews interview in which Alec Hoog talks to Dr Frans Cronje, you will find that Cronje supports your view. His latest national polling data indicates the ANC stable at around 50%, EFF falling somewhat, DA falling a little and IFP surging, especially in KZN.

  • Peter Slingsby says:

    It’s all very well banging on about local government – but can you tell us in which of these other national departments the ANC’s record has been a shining success? – Education [and Pit Toilets]; Transport; Energy; Foreign Affairs; Police; Defence; Home Affairs; Health …

  • The Proven says:

    I suspect votes wil migrate from the EFF to the ANC – they will run the power stations to death to end loadshedding just before the next elections, getting a boost to the vote and above 50%. 5 More years of ANC misrule waiting for us.
    Further to this, if the majority of South Africans effectively condone the corruption, theft and misrule of the ANC, then frankly, they deserve not to have service delivery.

  • Andrew W says:

    We are dreaming if we think for a second the ANC will accede to a peaceful transition of power. The Cadre-feeding system is now so normalised, this is not the ANC of Oliver Tambo and Nelson Mandela. It is simply an organized criminal network, who happens to be in parliament. South Africa will finally realise it is in fact in Africa and not an exception on the tip of the continent as we head into that familiar spiral of decay. Our children’s future has been stolen by the ANC, much like everything else not riveted into the ground.

    • Stephen Paul says:

      Tragically Andrew W and the other comments on this article are only too true. The most criminal part is that this country has such wonderful human and natural capital which the cANCer would rather drag down to destruction than lose power. Perhaps it is time to seriously consider a Movement for the Western Cape to secede but the response of the ANC thugocracy would of course be one of murder and violence.

      • Paddy Ross says:

        That is a very negative attitude. The Western Cape(particularly Cape Town) must continue to give the DA overall majorities so that the Western Cape can continue to be a shining example to the electorate in the other provinces what good governance looks like. It might take a while but the penny will drop eventually and South Africa will then be governed by those who truly believe in democracies.

        • Roelf Pretorius says:

          Read my response to Ron Ron . . . but, provided that the current instability regarding coalitions can be resolved and the DA national leadership will realise that in SA culture a coalition is a new “party” of sorts and the best leaders have to be elected, and that from then on the whole coalition has to work in a team in the interest of the public, coalition politics can actually change things around. First of all, it will remove the ANC from power (maybe even if the ANC still forms part of it because the other partners will be able to force changes), and secondly, in the history of governance coalitions were able to provide the necessary changes that single political parties could not do before that.

      • Alf None' says:

        I have been told, and I understand that hearsay can be disruptive, one sided etc. but the context of what I have been told fits the actions and style of the ANC and unfortunately, therefore, seems quite possible. It is said that to win votes in 2024, the ANC’s biggest propaganda ploy is going to be the reduction of load shedding and pointing out that their new Minister has done what the recently departed CEO could not do. This they are going to achieve by reducing/stopping essential maintenance, running the diesel fleet (which will also make those with a finger in the diesel pie very happy) and turning a blind eye to corruption so as not to upset those in high places and thus reduce sabotage/disruption. The fact that there will be chaos after the elections as the system completely collapses is not a concern, because the ANC are only concerned with short term gains. Heaven help us if this strategy is carried out!!

        • andrea96 says:

          100% agree. I am convinced that the criminal regime is running Eskom at full power because they know, no power could be the final nail in their coffin.

  • Joan Brady says:

    If the ministers of each portfolio (especially Health, Education and Security) were forced to use exclusively the facilities they oversee, things would be very different.
    Imagine them and their families having to use Livingstone Hospital, pit latrines at school and relying on SAPS for their security

  • Peter Binge says:

    ” it must either actually make a difference in people’s lives, or give voters a strong reason for hope or a belief that things will change.”
    The third option is to steal the election, which given their track record is extremely likely.

  • Johan Buys says:

    The ANC is as bad at governing as the opposition parties are at getting over their petty ego differences and forming a proper opposition. For example : where else in the world do they have parties defined by religion?

    • jlloyd says:

      India and Israel for a start!

    • D'Esprit Dan says:

      The nub of the problem – our opposition is catastrophically useless at crafting a strong, vibrant alternative to the ANC (and their EFF partners). The likes of Steenhuisen and Zille are particularly culpable, as they should be setting the example, as the largest opposition party, not throwing their toys out the cot or making statements that are cringeworthy, like Zille routinely does.

      • virginia crawford says:

        Spot on. The charmless pair: Zille and Steenhuizen.

      • Johan Buys says:

        Dee: you would imagine, as an opposition party, that the essential and strongest weapon in your arsenal is getting the ANC out.

        That must surely be a uniting element in all the opposition parties. If they all campaign on Anything But ANC they will get more people to vote and win the popular vote.

        But they are fragmented. We should have a rule that all parties nominate an alternate. Binding. So if YellowHats party gets 1% and they nominated GreenBerets as their alternate, then GreenBerets gets all YellowHats’ seats and votes. Not sure what the % should be but maybe around 5%.

        So the Ambidextrous Vegan Party supporters can vote for AVP, but after the count, their weight sits in AVP’s nominee, which any AVP voter knew was contractually legally bound.

  • Ian McClure says:

    I agree with Barry , sadly – don’t hold your breath .
    The perfect storm – to return these clear thieves and incompetent to power – apartheid and ANC pathetic education , deflection from the real issues to racial and historical issues – and the absolute ignorance of the truth by the ( sadly ) ignorant ( mostly rural ) citizens . Real communist strategy .
    The good journalism and consequent truths are being consumed by the converted – no use to the failing nation in 2024 .
    Dissemination of the truths by the media is an urgent priority .

    • Sylvia Reid says:

      I agree with the last reply that “the dissemination of the truth by the media is an urgent priority”. But there are thousands who do not know where the next meal will come from (maybe except via an ANC grant) who have little chance of receiving the truth. Perhaps their social workers have to be ANC also? Doubtless the wonderful NGOs who can provide meals are too busy to disseminate truth and would be disallowed if they tried. I know I am blessed to be able to read the Daily Maverick on my computer for free having nearly outlived my finances at my old age!

  • Wishful thinking, Stephen? More than 18 million receiving social grants. Each one a vote for the ANC.

    • Kelsey Boyce says:

      Not entirely – only 17.5m people in total voted in 2019, and of those only 10m voted for ANC. There is a hopelessness and apathy amongst voters that the ANC has created and it will come back and bite them.

  • Milner Erlank Erlank says:

    It is trite: you get the government you deserve. This is South Africa at every level. In some respects, you can lay blame on basic eduction standards so low that students who passed through the education system during the past 25 years are unable judgmentally to apply logic on why life has become so bad for them. Cynics have said the ANC has kept education standards so low to keep the majority of votes in thrall to it. Where in South Africa are most things working – in areas outside national government responsibilities? The Western Cape. Common sense asks why? No corruption. Money spent where it should. One would think people would asks questions. So back to my opening words.

  • Matt Sharratt says:

    Power corrupts absolutely.
    If the ANC scores well below 45%, I think there is no question they will find a way to form a coalition with the EFF. As a result, there is a high probability that things will just get worse. In the short term, the best outcome for SA in 2024 would be a small under performance of ANC below 50% that could lead to a coalition with a couple of small parties. No question an ANC/ EFF coalition will be a disaster.

    As an aside, could the writer please stop using the phrase “lived experience”. It’s a linguistic fad to show the writer is more in touch with social dynamics than someone who does not use the phrase, but it’s basically nonsense. “Experience” will do on its own. How is one’s experiences achieved, except by living them?

  • Patterson Alan John says:

    Talk of the ANC losing power is based on hope.
    Hope that the majority of voters will respond to the ANC failures.
    People wearing Mandela T-shirts voted and returned control of the Barrydale Municipality to the ANC. Surely this is a clear indication that the aura of Madiba is sufficient for the rank and file to completely overlook the miserable performance of the ANC, in favour of supporting their liberators from Apartheid. Common sense within the majority does not prevail.
    The wailing, wringing of hands and gnashing of teeth will serve no purpose.
    The die is cast.
    Nothing can. or will. lift South Africa out of its’ continued decline to the lowest common denominator.

  • Trevor Thompson says:

    Whilst I believe to be true everything that is said in this forum around the deficiencies of the ANC and its lack of any direction, we commit the same errors as our opposition leaders. We bash the ANC with good reason, but there is another way.
    I would love to see a general analysis and thought around the way out of this mess. Parties must come forward with their best well thought out plans as to how the country must be run to get out of this. We need directed solutions not rhetoric, driven goals which will take us on the high road.
    A very brief list of top actions suggested:
    1. Tackle head on the serious negative effects of Communism on our economy. This relates back to everything from poor SOE’s, no job growth, centralisation of key functions with no qualified persons in charge. Look at the history in other communist states and realise that the poor will always be the victims when they should be the beneficiaries of global capital through creation of meaningful jobs.
    2. Make excellence the keystone for any policies, procedures, strategies, and thus appointments. Make education a prime driver of the skills required to provide excellence. Asia is leading the way through excellence. I experienced this first hand in Vietnam where highly educated and skilled workers have driven the change (communist government in name but not in DEEDS).
    3. Focus on solutions and devise strategies which will drive the country forward at a rapid rate. This requires politicians with visions, true leaders taking us forward. Separation of party and the government.
    4. Make it a priority to settle differences in opposition parties for the common good to achieve well structured excellence in governance through the achievement of common goals which unite the opposition. Petty squabbling for power benefits nobody and turns our leaders into chickens scratching in the dirt of our disorganisation.
    5. Ensure that the workforce grows through the focused attention to job creation through a free market economy. Bring in foreign investment through the establishment of law and order, control of protests resulting in destruction of property and the creation of genuine productivity in the workplace. This is the only way we will create jobs – the government has no money, and a declining, already too small, tax base.
    6. Have targeted think tanks where ideas and ways forward to address our deficiencies are debated head-on. Have information sessions on radio, media, where these can be extended to the masses as a form of voter education. Empower the right to vote for the things that really matter, not blind adherence to archaic systems proven to be destructive.
    6. Put aside differences in politics driven by power and replace those energies with driven change for the betterment of the poor and therefore the country as a whole.
    7. Make the small things better immediately: traffic violations (red light running, selfish driving, using indicators, correct highway use, roadworthiness, foot patrol law enforcement etc.), employ qualified staff (no cadre employment, ability criteria the only measure of employment, proper directed policies and procedures for a non-partisan government service at all levels), and so on.
    8. Most importantly: Bring our true leaders to the fore. This needs to happen through electoral reforms whereby the representatives are elected by the people because they have proven leadership ability or potential. Most of our current leaders are in it for selfish ends and not necessarily for the general benefit of the country – if this was the case, the general benefit, our opposition would be more united and goal driven resulting in meaningful change.
    So, this is half-a-wish-list. But it is essential for us to create vision, to be able to see the brighter future, to unite around sound ideas, cooperate in governance for the betterment of the country, to lead from the front.
    Come on leaders: give us your best solutions to solve the ills of our society through meaningful, structured policies to drive us forward and flight these constantly through airing of solutions. Every attack on the government should be coupled with the recipe for change that will benefit all. LETS HEAR HOW YOUR PARTIES WILL CREATE OUR NEW SOCIETY.
    It is not the easy road to take, far simpler to criticise a useless government, and not take on the real responsibility of solving the mess we are in.
    A bit longer than I originally intended – but point hopefully made.

    • Johan Buys says:

      Trevor : you are preaching to the converted.

      An interesting social experiment would be the price tag that voters attach to their vote. So if Joe could sell me his vote : how much? R100? R500? R50,000? A R4m Patek Phillipe Nautilus watch like our energy minister wears?

      Armed with R1m, how many votes could I buy by direct cash transfer, if it were legal?

      • Roelf Pretorius says:

        As long as South Africans reason like you do, we are just going to go further down and down and the ANC will keep laughing all the way to the bank.

    • Roelf Pretorius says:

      Yes Trevor . . . but for that you have to get rid of the ANC. Or if Ramaphosa is still the President, then he must be able to rule without the ANC, i.e. if he does something that the ANC consensus does not like, they will not be able to veto it or remove him from power as they did with Thabo Mbeki. So we have to get rid of the problem: the ANC.

  • Kim Webster says:

    Leave it to Patriotic Alliance to ensure an ANC/EFF coalition!

  • Hermann Funk says:

    The readers’ comments rather than the article are a clear demonstration of the South African sickness. To blame the gangster in power is easy and justified. Blaming “stupid” voters, ineffective opposition parties, etc. makes the questioners forget their own contribution to the malaise the country is in. If a system fails it is necessary to question the contribution of ALL parts to the system. It is the unwillingness of many to do that. Otherwise they would realise that their own lack of action is a major contributor to the catastrophe the country is in.

    • Trevor Thompson says:

      For most of us – I am beyond my active years – our contributions are limited to thoughts and communication on channels such as the media. We need to educate voters and encourage them to vote. My point is they need to know what to vote for – not just a name or an old liberation struggle 30 years ago. Whilst we understand the reason for the government bashing, the rural voters have no idea why. Give them the issues and then the proper/correct solutions to fix things. Equip them with the concepts to think change from the government of the day. Constant reinforcement is required. Sowing these seeds will ultimately benefit the nation through the vote ……..
      By the way I am targeting the opposition as a whole, imcluding the leadership of the DA.

      • Roelf Pretorius says:

        We should keep in mind that the generation that admired the “liberation leaders” are passing on, and the new young voters have no experience of the time of suppression before 1994. That is why the ANC is losing support, and that is how failing liberation movements are falling out of government; it is because the new young generation gets rid of them while the old people did not want to. So I have hope for SA – we just need leaders who are able to look past party political ideological rhetoric.

  • Cedric Richards says:

    We need to remind the people that ‘If you voted ANC or did not vote, then don’t complain. Suck it up’.
    Maybe a bill board or bumper sticker

  • Jack Rollens says:

    The ANC is the cause for South Africas downfall. Corruption from the top down to the local government. Zuma and Ramaphosa are the same. Wildlife trafficking, local mafia controlled poaching. Eskom, water, basic infrastructure is a mess and getting worse. But, Ramaphosa has $4,000,000.00 US dollars in his couch. 40+% unemployment. And the highest rate of inequality in Africa. Mandela is spinning in his grave.

  • Glyn Morgan says:

    Not long ago the media were slamming the DA for very minor items. Penny Sparrow made a really stupid comment. A photograph of a kids class was taken totally out of context and lives were ruined. How often does the average ANC MP make worse? Compare these issues of the ANC and their pilfering of billions to the huge issue that the media made of Hellen Zille’s very innocuous tweet!! We could have been out of this mess an election ago. The media is as guilty as the ANC.

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