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ANC confident it will secure 57% of electoral votes despite looming MK party threat

ANC confident it will secure 57% of electoral votes despite looming MK party threat
Illustrative image | Cyril Ramaphosa, ANC president during the Congress (ANC) Election Manifesto Launch at Moses Mabhida Stadium on 24 February 2024 in Durban, South Africa. The manifesto launch provided a platform for the ANC to outline its plans for the 2024 national and provincial polls. (Photo: Gallo Images/Darren Stewart)

With just over a month until South Africans cast their votes in the general election, the ANC has set out its last-ditch effort to retain its position as the governing party.

Amid the formation of several new political parties which will be challenging the ANC in the upcoming elections, the organisation is determined not to slip beneath the 57.5% they obtained in the 2019 elections.

Speaking to Daily Maverick, party Treasurer-General Gwen Ramokgopa said the ANC was being received well by communities and is working to translate this into votes.

The party estimates that they will need to get at least 11 million votes if the voter turnout stands at 70%.

“Our formal position is that we would like to retain the current percentage and get even more. The current [prediction] is around 57%. We are gunning for an overwhelming majority. We appreciate that it would be hard and robust and we accept that and there will be misinformation and onslaught. Many parties do not have a manifesto. Their manifesto is how can we weaken the ANC, so our people can see through that,” she said.

Read more in Daily Maverick: 2024 elections hub

The party’s overarching theme has been about highlighting their successes as the country celebrates 30 years of democracy. Party president Cyril Ramaphosa in his capacity as head of state highlighted the benefits of democracy using the analogy of Tintswalo during the State of the Nation Address this year. This was unofficially the beginning of the governing party election campaign.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Ramaphosa’s blinkered story of Tintswalo omits the challenges facing our nation

He further went on to elaborate on why South Africans should continue voting for the ANC during the party’s manifesto launch in Durban.

The party has positioned its campaign around winning the outright majority which has resulted in many of its senior leaders refusing to engage about the possibility of coalitions.

Ramokgopa explained that there is a concerted effort to divide South Africans, similar to the tactics used in the apartheid era.

“In the first election, the ANC was identified as ‘swart gevaar’. So it is like déjà vu. There was a mobilisation of voices saying that the ANC must die, but why, when the ANC has such a track record of improving the lives of people for the better? Is it because of the divide and conquer, so that they can lead again?

“We are seeing that those who are mobilising attacks against the ANC are looking towards certain countries to support them. Why now? Is it because they still believe they can take this country back? Is it because they want SA to take the route that many African countries have taken after liberation and freedom?” she said.

The ANC to accelerate its campaign

Daily Maverick understands that the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) held a meeting on Thursday evening where members discussed how they would be accelerating their campaign to ensure victory.

The party’s head of elections, Mdumiseni Ntuli, presented a report to members of the party’s highest decision-making body, which revealed that they would be targeting first-time voters.

This, coupled with mobilising their existing voter base, is key to the party’s plan for winning the elections.

NEC sources said there are provinces the ANC has earmarked as strongholds, including Limpopo, Eastern Cape, and Mpumalanga. These are largely rural provinces and the party will have to fight harder to attract voters in the more urban provinces like Gauteng and Western Cape.

That is why the party is looking to accelerate its campaign in areas where it already has a strong voter base. The organisation is also said to be targeting metro areas where party president President Cyril Ramaphosa is expected to campaign.

The party intends to formulate what they have dubbed the “battle plan” of the ANC which will create machinery through which they will carry out the last stretch of the campaign.

KZN and Gauteng 

The ANC however acknowledged that it will have to put in more work to attract voters in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and Gauteng, the two provinces with the most number of voters where the ANC is expected to struggle to retain its majorities.

ANC NEC member and former KZN chairperson Senzo Mchunu told Daily Maverick that it is possible for the party to gain momentum in highly contested provinces.

“Those two provinces have been identified as priority provinces for our campaign, there is no doubt about this. We are refining some of the interventions that need to be made.

“We are concerned, in KZN in 2021 we lost a substantial number of municipalities, especially in the north and that was the beginning of our worries because that outcome was not desirable. But we see that even in those municipalities that the IFP won, they are not necessarily doing a good job,” he said.

The ANC’s toughest competition in KZN will be the IFP, but with the entry of Jacob Zuma’s MK party, the province is set to be a battleground.

The party wants to conclude its campaign by spending a significant period of time in KZN to ensure that they are able to interact with voters. The governing party received 54.22% support in the province in the 2019 elections.

The governing party’s support in Gauteng stood at just over 50% in 2019 and that is why there are major concerns that they might drop even lower this time around.

Campaign shortcomings

Daily Maverick understands complaints were coming from the top brass of the party because of NEC members who were not fulfilling their campaign obligations.

During last week’s meeting, they were told that supporters, branches and regions were left in the lurch on several occasions, with NEC members not pitching to be part of the campaign trail.

There was also discord around the lack of participation by provincial executive committees (PECs) in election campaigns.

A decision was taken to ensure that NEC and PEC members are closely monitored to ensure that they are actively involved in the organisation’s events.

NEC members were told that they would face severe consequences if they continued avoiding their deployment responsibilities.

The party’s poster and pamphlet rollout also seems to be moving slower compared to that of opposition parties like the DA and EFF.

The ANC has in the past few years faced financial difficulties which could be at the centre of why they have battled to have high visibility.

Read more in Daily Maverick: ANC turns to crowdfunding to stabilise its finances

However, Ramokgopa refuted this claim, telling voters to “watch this space” to see how the party’s campaign will be shaping up.

Internal polling and social media

The party is looking to conduct its own polling to counter existing surveys which have shown an unfavourable trend in the party’s support.

Sources said there was a call for all NEC members to use social media to influence citizens to vote for the governing party. Those without social media accounts were prompted to come on board as it is an important component of their election programme.

This election season, the ANC has consistently been polled beneath the 50% mark by a number of research institutions.

In October last year, Ipsos placed the ANC’s national support at 43%, while their February poll results from this year suggest that the governing party will receive only 38.5%.

The Brenthurst Foundation survey first revealed that polling results place the ANC at 48% in November 2022, however, the October 2023 results stand at 41%.

The Social Research Foundation’s poll, which was released last week, says the ANC will have just 37% support.

Analysts weigh in

Political analyst Mcebisi Ndletyana says the ANC faces stiff competition where their traditional voter base is concerned.

“This election of course you also have the MK party that is challenging them in the province where the ANC previously got the highest number of votes, KZN” he said.

He also mentions that the new parties in Gauteng will also give the governing party a run for their money.

“You also have, especially in Gauteng, ActionSA which did well in the 2021 elections and now you also have a new party Rise Mzansi and they are all fishing in the same pond as the ANC.

“What is even worse for the ANC is that it does not have a good story to tell, life is still hard, electricity still remains a problem, corruption still remains a problem. There was an issue of the candidate list including corrupt people going to Parliament,” he reiterated.

Analyst Asanda Ngoasheng highlighted that opposition parties and the spate of newly formed parties had similar ideas which means that they will likely be in competition with the DA and not the ANC.

“In funding, the DA, rise Mzansi, IFP and all the opposition parties — the Oppenhiemers have basically set them up to be a group of white capital-funded opposers to the free will of the majority. There are graphics doing the rounds saying that these parties are “DA light”. When you look at their policies they are similar and there is very little they offer from the foundation the ANC has given. They are not thinking creatively in terms of how SA should be governed,” she explained.

Saule says the entry of the MK party into the political arena may have an unexpected positive twist for the ANC.

“The ANC can definitely retain their majority based on a number of reasons. They will face many challenges and I don’t think they will necessarily retain the 57% but I do see them continuing to get the majority vote.

“The MK party may take votes from the ANC but they may have an opposite effect which will see those who used to vote for the ANC before Jacob Zuma was its president going back to them,” she said. DM


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