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ROAD TO 2024 ELECTIONS

Election Alignment: ANC-EFF coalition pact for Gauteng government is a given

Election Alignment: ANC-EFF coalition pact for Gauteng government is a given
ANC and EFF members relaunch the Nicolway Precinct in Bryanston as the Winifred Mandela Precint. Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi (centre) with Gauteng EFF premier candidate Mbuyiseni Ndlozi. With them are supporters of both parties. (Photo: X)

On the Gauteng election campaign trail, the writing on the wall for the ANC-EFF post-election agreement is straightforward.

The ANC and EFF are likely to join forces to form a Gauteng coalition government after the 29 May election if they get enough for a majority in the country’s economic heartbeat province.

Following the campaign trail, this is clear because the parties partner in launches and ribbon-cutting, using their positions in the city and provincial governments of Gauteng, Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni. Gauteng Premier Panyaza Lesufi is in a fight for his political life and has joined EFF members on the campaign trail at several intersecting points. 

“The people who lead the ANC now are people we led with in the ANC Youth League,” EFF leader Julius Malema said at the Wits School of Governance on 25 April in reply to a question about a Gauteng pact. When Malema was expelled from the ANC in 2013, Lesufi campaigned publicly for his readmission. That relationship endures.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Elections 2024

Gauteng ANC leaders say the party will receive majority support in the province, which will, with KwaZulu-Natal, determine the election outcome. However, several polls show the ANC’s support is falling faster in Gauteng, where support for the governing party has been dropping, as city voters suffer a decline in services and high unemployment.

Professor David Everatt, of the defunct Change Starts Now party, canvassed the highest number of South Africans in the face-to-face and multilingual poll, which put the ANC at 35% and the EFF at 17%, enough to form an ANC-EFF government in the city region.  

Professor Mark Orkin recast Everatt’s numbers and found the ANC could get 42% in Gauteng and the EFF 20%, more than enough to form a coalition pact.

The poll was done before Lesufi started a campaign in which he launched a provincial instant-police warden service (the Gauteng Crime Prevention Wardens, or amaPanyaza), a mini-Eskom of micro-grids and substations using Johannesburg’s City Power expertise and resources (Operation Khanyisa), and two massive government jobs programmes that carry his personal brand (Nasi Spani and the iCrush No Lova R23-billion job-creation campaign with the UIF).

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The recommissioned open gas turbine at the John Ware substation in Johannesburg was unveiled on 17 April 2024. (Image:X)

Ideally, Lesufi wants to win with a majority in the province, but the latest Ipsos poll puts the ANC at 40.2% nationally, which shows it is unlikely to win decisively in Gauteng, where 23.6% of all registered voters live. The city region, which covers three metropolitan areas and six municipalities, is still South Africa’s finance, economic and political heartland, even as the Western Cape rises sharply.

It is the most intensely competitive province for the 2024 elections, and new parties like ActionSA and Rise Mzansi could dent the governing party. The DA is also a strong contender in Gauteng.

This means a tie-up with the EFF could be essential to Lesufi’s ambitions to use his premiership to propel him to national leadership. The ANC and EFF in Johannesburg, with Lesufi in a starring role, using electricity supplied by City Power to light up townships and informal settlements where energy and jobs drive the election campaign. Johannesburg, with 2.3 million registered voters, and Ekurhuleni with 1.65 million hold the key to Gauteng’s political fortunes.

“Coalitions in Gauteng are not easy. We’re fighting. The ANC will inevitably be in coalition (because) when the ANC loses, it loses forever. It never recovered in the Western Cape or in Johannesburg,” Malema said.

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The ANC and EFF on the campaign trail for the renaming of the Nicolway precinct in Bryanston to the Winifred Mandela Precinct. Gauteng premier Panyaza Lesufi, Johannesburg mayor Kabelo Gwamanda and EFF Johannesburg MMC Jack Sekwaila with supporters. (Photo: X)

The two parties are also using soft power to project a partnership in the expensive parts of the province. Last week, Lesufi and the EFF Gauteng premier candidate Mbuyiseni Ndlozi cut the ribbon for the renaming of the Nicolway precinct in Bryanston to the Winifred Mandela Precinct. The ANC-EFF coalition in Johannesburg also renamed William Nicol as Winnie Mandela Drive in 2023 and is coalescing around her legacy as a building block to a future provincial government.

For six months Lesufi has ignored an ANC National Executive Committee (NEC) decision to cut ties with the EFF and the Patriotic Alliance. Queenin Masuabi reported here that in October 2023, the ANC’s head of political education, David Makhura (a former Gauteng premier), called the EFF a “proto-fascist party run dictatorially” and said it was using the ANC to build its power base. The NEC decided that ties with the EFF should be severed, but it looks like the party’s true power bosses will strengthen them after the elections. DM

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