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The ANC’s 2024 manifesto — big promises, bigger promises and the extra biggest promises

The ANC’s 2024 manifesto — big promises, bigger promises and the extra biggest promises
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa during the party’s election manifesto launch at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on 24 February 2024. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

The ANC’s election manifesto reveals a party which appears to understand the complaints that mark our daily life — and promises to reduce violent crime, end load shedding, lower the cost of living, fix potholes and introduce a national youth service. However, as the budget last week revealed, many of these promises may be impossible to implement in the real world.

Much has changed since the ANC launched its election manifesto in 2019. And yet, much is being repeated — with it facing its toughest test in the upcoming elections. Back then, one of the defining dynamics in the party was the rift between the ANC leader, President Cyril Ramaphosa, and his predecessor Jacob Zuma. Now, that rift is much more obvious, with Zuma leading a different party, uMkhonto Wesizwe.

anc manifesto mandela

A poster of Nelson Mandela is held aloft at the ANC’s election manifesto launch at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on 24 February 2024. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

In 2019, the issue of land was a politically dominant dynamic, causing this writer to remark that it was significant that there was so little focus on the issue in the election manifesto that year.

It is the same time this time around. There is a promise to “more effectively use provisions in the Constitution and expropriation legislation to accelerate land [reform]”, but very little focus on the issue. 

The 2024 manifesto does, however, demonstrate one of the ANC’s great strengths — that it can, when it needs to, show that it has heard the cries of voters. This is one of the reasons it conducted its manifesto review tour last year.

This time around, the manifesto contains a promise to create 3.5 million public sector job opportunities, to create a “national youth service” with the SANDF and to prioritise food security.

anc manifesto zuma

Former President Jacob Zuma arrives at Alexandra Stadium to address supporters of Mkhonto weSizwe (MK) on 7 February 2024. (Photo: Gallo Images / City Press / Tebogo Letsie)

anc manifesto mk

A symbolic RIP MK party coffin at the ANC’s election manifesto launch at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on 24 February 2024. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

The ANC has promised for years that it would create jobs. This has been its consistent pledge since at least 2009. And yet youth unemployment is now higher than ever.

It is not clear how the SANDF could implement a national youth service when in real terms its budget will decline again this year, just as more demands are being made upon it in the DRC.

The ANC is correct that food security is a major problem and starvation in the Eastern Cape is a horrific reminder of the seriousness of this issue. However, the measures that are promised — to continue the “VAT exemption on essential items, support for community and home gardens” and to act against price fixing — are less than inspirational.

There is also a promise to “strengthen income support through existing social grants and use the Social Distress of Relief grants as a mechanism towards phasing in a basic income support grant”.

While this is a sort-of promise towards a basic income grant (BIG), it is significant that the ANC has not gone down the populist route of making a big explicit promise of a large grant for everyone, which suggests the party is aware of how this issue could backfire.

There are signals in the manifesto of how the party wants to deal with recurrent problems.

It promises to give “national and provincial governments greater responsibilities to support municipalities that struggle to provide services to the community”. This could well make it easier for the national government to intervene in eThekwini, for example, which has resisted such an intervention.

Clean water

The party is explicit in saying that national and provincial governments will have more powers to “intervene to provide clean water where municipalities are struggling to properly provide this service”.

This might well be evidence of the influence of Water Affairs and Sanitation Minister Senzo Mchunu, who has been vocal in his desire for more power to intervene in councils with a particularly dire situation on the ground. 

The ANC is well aware that load shedding will have a major impact on its share of the vote. And, given the technicalities of South Africa’s transition from being dependent on coal and Eskom to renewable energy and independent producers, some may comb the ANC’s manifesto for clues as to what decisions its government will make in this regard.

The party appears to want to keep almost everyone happy, saying it will invest in the transmission grid so that more energy “including from renewable sources” can be supplied. It also promises to install more solar water heaters, and “develop gas, nuclear and hydropower projects”.

What is missing from this list of ingredients is any suggestion of investment in coal.

There is a long list of promises to improve people’s lives, including action against drugs, organised crime, extortion and gangsterism — a response to the consistent cries of communities who speak daily of their fear of rampant violent crime.

The manifesto provides some details, promising to modernise policing, increase the number of frontline offices, strengthen the justice system and the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) and reduce case backlogs. 

(Presumably, the NPA budget will grow faster than the VIP protection costs. — Ed)

However, it will be almost impossible to reduce crime without improving the way the police are led.

anc manifesto supor

Supporters at the ANC’s election manifesto launch at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on 24 February 2024. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

The manifesto refers to immigration issues, essentially pledging to continue with the changes to the migration laws and to “overhaul the immigration system”. It says the ANC will introduce a “unified citizen, refugee and migration law”.

All of this appears to be proposed by Home Affairs Minister Dr Aaron Motsoaledi.

The manifesto says the ANC wants to “simplify visa application procedures”. This has been a huge issue which has led to the Tourism Department and the Home Affairs Ministry having strong disagreements.

Former Home Affairs minister Malusi Gigaba. (Photo: Gallo Images/OJ Koloti)

Considering that this tension goes back to Malusi Gigaba’s tenure at Home Affairs nearly 10 years ago, it may be overly optimistic to presume that this issue will now be resolved.

Xenophobia, potholes and integrity

There is also a nod to the heated politics of xenophobia, with a promise in the manifesto “to give preference to South African job-seekers and act against employment and exploitation of undocumented persons”. This is likely to be hugely contested, with legal arguments about the constitutionality of laws proposed by the Department of Home Affairs.

One of the most visible symptoms of our governance problems is potholes and the fact that in some places roads seem to have disappeared.

The ANC says it will use public employment programmes to fix potholes and pave roads and will create a bigger role for the SA National Roads Agency Limited.

This may be a viable solution to a major problem and will help to create employment. But voters will require evidence that these programmes will be implemented.

The manifesto says: “The hardship and suffering of many has led them to believe that ANC leaders care only about themselves, that we are soft on corruption, and that we do not care about the suffering of ordinary people. We admit we made mistakes as the ANC, with some members and leaders undermining institutions of the democratic state and advancing selfish personal interests.”

It goes on to say that the “living embodiment of a renewed ANC will be members who show exemplary conduct in society by upholding the core values and principles of selfless public service, discipline and integrity”.

The party appears to be creating a test for itself. It promises that its members will govern with “discipline and integrity”.

anc manifesto mahlobo

Former state security minister and now Deputy Minister of Human Settlements, Water and Sanitation David Mahlobo. (Photo: Gallo Images/OJ Koloti)

And yet, as has been noted many times, David Mahlobo and Dipuo Peters are still in the government. And others, such as Sfiso Buthelezi still play big roles in Parliament, despite findings against them by the Zondo Commission or Parliament itself.

Meanwhile, it appears that the at least 95 ANC leaders who faced questions over their integrity may still be included on the party’s candidate lists for positions in Parliament and provincial legislatures.

This would fly in the face of warnings from the ANC Veterans League that nominating these people for positions could count against the ANC at the polls. 

This may lead to a situation where the ANC’s final list of candidates becomes one of the major issues of the elections.

There is one last point to make about how the ANC’s election manifesto is a demonstration of how some things in our society have changed so fundamentally.

On page 44 of the manifesto is a series of promises about social cohesion. The image selected by the party to accompany this issue is a picture of the Springboks, along with Ramaphosa, holding aloft the Rugby World Cup trophy. Considering the history of the Springboks, for this symbol to go from the very embodiment of apartheid pride to being included in a manifesto for the ANC is nothing short of breathtaking.

anc manifesto springboks

President Cyril Ramaphosa lifts the Webb Ellis Cup after the Springboks won the Rugby World Cup final against New Zealand at Stade de France in Paris on 28 October 2023. (Photo: Mike Hewitt / Getty Images)

It proves that institutions and symbols can change, and can be reformed (the ANC arguably played a big role in the start of this process, with Nelson Mandela’s support for the Springboks in 1995).

The ANC claims in this document to be reforming, that it has learnt from its mistakes and that it will be free from corruption. Seeing is believing and one can only hope. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Bamdile Sithole says:

    It’s my pleasure

  • Bamdile Sithole says:

    It’s a pleasure

  • Bamdile Sithole says:

    It’s pleasure

  • Simon Schaffer says:

    The ANC’s 2024 manifesto — lies, bigger lies and the extra biggest lies.

  • Wayne Habig says:

    Does Stephen Grootes have amnesia?
    – Apartheid crimes not prosecuted.
    – State Capture – Many ministers implicated still in cabinet.
    – Pandemic corruption.
    – ANC corruption within EC , where kids are starving.
    etc etc etc etc…..
    There’s being objective and then there’s being blind to historical/current facts.

  • Alley Cat says:

    Will be back in a minute to complete this comment. I just need to go outside to be sure there ARE pigs flying past.

  • Dennis Bailey says:

    I am astonished that the ANC could fill a bus with supporters let alone a stadium. Says a lot about the unimaginative electorate when 300 alternatives exist, that the majority behaves as if it is braindead. The archbishop’s belief that education is key to democratic change has traction here. His belief also that the ANC has purposely trashed education to ensure votes could find no better proof than the ANC rally.

  • Johan Buys says:

    We all want most of those things for everybody. Jobs, decent healthcare, safe homes, water & electricity are universal needs.

    The party has two problems. One, the country has run out of the money needed to fund these essentials. For this, the only solution at hand is to drain pension and savings by forcing investment in state projects. But then there is the second problem : that its cadres will, through a combination of corruption and incompetence, misdirect ½ of that money.

    History will record that 2024 was the nation’s last chance to change the course of our ship. More of the same or even worse : more of even worse with ANC and RET coalition, will lead to a very big version of Zimbabwe.

    • Gerrie Pretorius says:

      “One, the country has run out of the money needed to fund these essentials.”
      No Johan the country has not run out of money! The only problem is anc corruption via cadre deployment and racist laws that force race classification so that BEE and AA can be used to feed a small group of pigs at the taxpayer ttough.

      • Grenville Wilson says:

        Agreed! The Country hasn’t run out of money! The money that is there and being collected is being syphoned off and stolen through corrupt activities.

  • Middle aged Mike says:

    Anyone that buys a promise wafting out of the cesspit of grand larceny that is the ANC deserves what they get. Sadly there are enough dim wits who do that the rest of us get their just deserts too.

  • John P says:

    As always from the ANC. Listen to the people and identify their issues. Promise to fix them. Promise that the never ending money tree will provide more jogs, grants, food, water etc. Wait for the election, become the government, sit back and do absolutely nothing to fulfill any of the promises made. Wait 5 years and recycle.

  • Daniel Mah says:

    Oh well cry the beloved country.

    I guess if the voters are happy with the current state of affairs they will give the stamp of approval come the election day or we will witness for the first time some sort of we gatvol attitude. Will be interesting to witness.

  • D'Esprit Dan says:

    There’s a scene in Mel Brooks’ History of the World, Part 1, where a bunch of Roman senators walk into the senate mumbling “bullshit, bullshit, bullshit” to one another, before one of them stands up and makes an impassioned speech about whether they should continue building palaces for the rich or help the poor (I’m paraphrasing). When asked to vote, the Senate unanimously shouts “F#ck the poor!” It sounds much like an ANC election manifesto.

  • Jucy Malema says:

    Can only hope? There is no hope! Not in this dark country or continent

  • eish Effedup says:

    Its emigrate, semigrate or disintegrate.

  • Stephen Paul says:

    EFFing Promises Promises Promises. “One can only hope” is not good enough. cANCer has zero credibility and time for them to EFF off. They can make promises until the cows come home but their cadre deployment policy has left the country, except Western Cape, in the hands of incompetents who have no ability or interest other than their own inflated pay packets to bring their benefactor’s promises to fruition. This poor excuse of inheritors of the original ANC icons have blown their chance to govern, and the country with them, and only proper governance by a DA led coalition can rescue the people of SA from themselves.

  • eish Effedup says:

    They make me wanna puke

  • Vincent Britz says:

    Just more lies from the corrupt ANC government, just like the last 30 years!!! Lies & more lies!!!

  • Peter Merrington says:

    Um. Another Oaf of Office in the making. Oaths, oafs, the subjunctive mood – ‘Í would if I should, if I only could….’ Precious little meaning without ethics and competence. Track record is what counts.

  • Gerrit Marais says:

    Beginning to wonder about Stephen G.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


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