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ANC ‘made many mistakes’ but will correct them in the next five years, says election team head

ANC ‘made many mistakes’ but will correct them in the next five years, says election team head
ANC elections head Mdumiseni Ntuli. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

The ANC elections head Mdumiseni Ntuli leads a team that needs to convince South Africans to give the party another shot at governing – amid load shedding, rampant corruption, high levels of poverty, unemployment and a stagnant economy. In Part One of this interview, Ntuli outlines the party’s plans to reverse the negative narrative and breach the 50% mark at the polls, 30 years into democracy.

Manifesto launch and elections logistics

The ANC is pulling out all the stops. It has recruited more than 450,000 cadres to crisscross the country and connect with voters ahead of the 29 May elections.

“We plan to have 20 comrades in each and every voting district in the country coordinating our effort as the ANC,” said the party’s head of elections, Mdumiseni Ntuli, who leads the team of campaigners.

anc elections ntuli

From left: President Cyril Ramaphosa, ANC elections head Mdumiseni Ntuli and ANC first deputy secretary-general Nomvula Mokonyane. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

In KwaZulu-Natal alone, the party will mobilise more than 50,000 electioneering volunteers. It is in this province that the party faces the very real prospect of losing power to a coalition of the IFP, DA and smaller parties. It also has to contend with former president Jacob Zuma’s MK Party which is eating away at the ANC’s traditional support base.

Daily Maverick spoke to Ntuli at a Durban beachfront hotel soon after the ANC launched its election manifesto at Moses Mabhida Stadium. The event was attended by thousands of supporters and was declared a “resounding success” by party leaders.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Manifesto launch: ANC promises ‘prescribed assets’, NHI in five years, 3.5m new state work opportunities

Volunteers will sell the ANC manifesto to the people of SA, with a focus on the following key themes:

  • Load shedding
  • Crime
  • Corruption
  • High cost of living
  • Creation of more than 2.5 million jobs
  • Transforming the economy

Read more in Daily Maverick: ANC pulls out all the stops for packed Durban election manifesto launch

Of the manifesto launch rally, Ntuli said: “I am convinced that it has conveyed a message of hope, particularly to the ground forces of the ANC throughout the country.

“As you would know, the national discourse is inundated with a negative narrative about the ANC, with research and polls also suggesting that the ANC is on an unstoppable decline.

“I think the statement we made during the manifesto rally reaffirmed and supported very strongly the message that the ANC is approaching these elections very strong, more aggressive and more focused, and with a plan to engage our communities,” said Ntuli.

“In the coming weeks and months, people will be responding positively to the ANC.

“The year 2023 was not kind to the ANC in terms of the state of the economy, the escalating levels of load shedding and many other issues, all of which have been negative to the ANC as the governing party.

“Being the year before the elections, it was inevitable that those things were going to impact negatively on the public perception of the ANC and, in a way, discourage and demoralise the ground forces of the ANC, who are supposed to be closer to the people,” he said.

anc elections ntuli

Of the manifesto launch rally, Ntuli said: ‘I am convinced that it has conveyed a message of hope, particularly to the ground forces of the ANC throughout the country.’ (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

“This manifesto conveys a message that although there are challenges on the ground, it is only the ANC that has the experience, the cadreship, policies and programmes to transform South Africa…

“ANC supporters are yearning for an aggressive and assertive leadership. The ANC is still the only movement in the country that has the experience.”

ANC on pre-election polls

Almost all pre-election polls indicate that the ANC will lose its majority for the first time.

In October, a Brenthurst Foundation poll indicated that the ANC would secure 41% of the national vote, while the Social Research Foundation had the ANC at 45%. An Ipsos poll put the ruling party at 50%.

Read more in Daily Maverick: New poll confirms ANC slide – desperate South Africans want new options

The ANC dismisses these polls and maintains that it will win an outright majority.

“Some of these polls are conducted by rightwing organisations; some are extensions of the DA – one of the DA’s key strategists (Ryan Coetzee) comes from one of these organisations. So we don’t expect them to say anything positive about the ANC… the methodology they use is self-serving.

“The only poll we are comfortable to engage with is the Ipsos one – it corresponds with our internal poll.

“When we do our own poll amongst the traditional ANC voters, they, like all South Africans, are concerned about five issues – unemployment and poverty, crime and corruption, the energy crisis and the impact of load shedding. These things are common to all South Africans, irrespective of their political affiliations. They have indicated that we need to have tangible solutions to respond to these challenges.

Read more in Daily Maverick: KZN ANC says Zuma has ‘freed’ the party and warns members with MK links

‘Mistakes’ were made

Ntuli said despite governance and other challenges, the ANC was still the only party capable of taking South Africa forward.

“In 1994, when we undertook to transform South African society, we knew that it would be a difficult and complex journey. But we never imagined some of the challenges we would find along the way. Now we have learnt our lessons.

anc elections mdumiseni Ntuli

Ntuli says that despite governance and other challenges, the ANC is still the only party capable of taking South Africa forward. (Photo: Gallo Images / Darren Stewart)

“We are dealing with the subjective weaknesses in our movement and our government. But South African voters know that it is only the ANC that has the experience, capacity and cadreship that can be able to continue the journey to a non-racial, non-sexist and equal society.

“If you look at all the opposition, you can hardly find five people with the competency to be deployed as ministers, let alone be president and deputy president.

“I am very proud of the achievements of the ANC in the past 30 years, but I am the first to admit that we could have done much better… We have made many mistakes along the way.

“We are ready to correct these mistakes in the next five years,” he said. DM

Read more about Mdumiseni Ntuli from our archives: Ntuli – the secretary-general candidate who believes the ANC can win back many voters

Look out for Part 2 of our interview series with Ntuli.


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