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South Africa’s second transition is upon us and the o...

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Opinionista

SA’s second transition is upon us and the only question is: Who will replace the ANC?

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Prince Mashele is an author and political analyst.

Life in South Africa under the ANC has been like a promising rocket that exploded shortly after take-off. We have now reached a stage where all sane South Africans agree that our country has no future in the hands of the governing party.

When a country undergoes thoroughgoing change, it is not always obvious. There are people who still don’t realise that post-Cold War South Africa is going through a second political transition.

A political transition – ie, the fall of an established regime and the rise of a new one – is a momentous development in the life of a country.

The first such transition in our country happened between 1989 and 1994, when the reign of Afrikaner nationalists floundered and was eventually replaced by an African nationalism of former liberation fighters.

Political transitions are generally occasioned by a realignment of political forces, resulting from an escalating crisis or a series of crises.

The new forces that are on the verge of inheriting political power from a dying regime tend to paint a rosy picture of times ahead, but those who are sober get haunted by the magnitude of the challenges.

Such was the atmosphere in the immediate period before 1994. 

While his ANC comrades were jubilantly imagining their new offices in government, Thabo Mbeki shared his worries with Willie Esterhuyse: “How are we going to integrate 30 million blacks, mostly poor, in an economic process that is currently controlled by a rich, white elite?

“You can’t eat the right to vote.”

More than a quarter of a century after the ANC took over power, Mbeki now knows that his party has failed dismally to end poverty among black people. The question that haunted him more than three decades ago is determined to follow the man to his grave. 

In fact, Mbeki’s party has committed worse sins. After a promising start, the ANC has almost completely destroyed the South African state. Today, very few things that belong to the state work.

In the main, a modern state rests on four crucial pillars: security, health, energy and education. All these, the ANC has ravaged.

Last year in July, we experienced the non-existence of our security forces. 

We are lucky that the hideous idea of invading South Africa has not crossed the mind of a madman like Vladimir Putin. Only transnational criminals – such as the Guptas, or zama-zamas from Lesotho, or drug dealers from Nigeria – have identified our country as their playground.

The ANC has broken our public health system to the extent that nurses had to donate money to buy bread for patients in Africa’s biggest hospital, Chris Hani Baragwanath. Indeed, when they are sick, ANC thugs don’t go to a public hospital.

A government that cannot provide as basic a need as electricity is not worth its name. The ANC has taken South Africa back to the dark ages. 

The party is so brazen in its lack of shame that it even issued a statement instructing South Africans to look for “alternative sources of energy”, which means that we must find our own wood, paraffin, gas or solar.  

While countries like China are investing heavily in education and artificial intelligence to future-proof themselves, South Africa’s public education is a factory manufacturing human disaster. Eighty percent of schools in the townships and rural areas are dysfunctional. How could they not be, when they are run by someone so incompetent as Angie Motshekga? 

Life in South Africa under the ANC has been like a promising rocket that exploded shortly after take-off. We have now reached a stage where all sane South Africans agree that our country has no future in the hands of the governing party.

The results of recent elections – from 2016 to 2021 – suggest very strongly that the ANC will not secure a simple majority in the 2024 elections.

Nothing has happened to suggest that the ANC can claw its way back from the 46% it secured in last year’s municipal elections. 

KwaZulu-Natal, where the party got 41%, will drift even further towards the resurgent IFP. In Gauteng, where the ANC has registered its lowest electoral support (36%), Panyaza Lesufi must prepare himself to be the leader of the opposition.

Let it be remembered that both Gauteng (with 15.4 million people) and KZN (11.5 million people) constitute almost half of South Africa’s population. Should the ANC decline even further in 2024 in these two provinces, which seems highly likely – and should the party lose 2% in every province, which is also not unlikely – it will need a coalition partner to govern South Africa.  

Such is the picture that brings us to a second transition. 

To say South Africans are angry would be an understatement. There are even people who wish elections could be brought forward so they can teach the ANC a lesson.

Leaders of the ANC are aware of what is about to happen to their party, but they are too embroiled in criminality and factional fighting to avert the approaching crash.

We can already foretell that the 2024 transition will be different from that of 1994. By 1990, it was clear that the ANC was a government-in-waiting. We knew, then, who our next president would be – Nelson Mandela.  

As we wait anxiously for 2024, there are three uncertain scenarios that cross the mind.  

The first scenario is a coalition government between the ANC and the EFF. This would indeed be a natural scenario, given that the EFF are young graduates from the ANC’s university of corruption.

The main complicating factor would be the bad blood between Cyril Ramaphosa and Julius Malema. But now that Ramaphosa has been exposed as a dodgy hoarder of US dollars, a criminal deal between the two is no longer unimaginable.

The second scenario is a coalition government between the ANC and the DA. Indeed, Ramaphosa is the darling of the DA. The main problem would be disagreements among ANC members over such a deal. But we must not forget that the National Party eventually dissolved into the ANC.

The third scenario is a coalition by former opposition parties, constituted largely by the DA, ActionSA, the EFF and the IFP.  The main difficulty here would be relations between the DA and the EFF. These two parties have told their constituencies that they are irreconcilable enemies. But we must not forget that, even though they have no formal coalition agreement, the two parties are currently de facto partners in three big Gauteng metros: Tshwane, Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni.

What makes the third scenario most likely is the possibility that a party – be it the EFF or the DA – that would partner with the ANC to form a government would incur the odiousness of being viewed by voters as preventing the death of a political criminal gang that has brought South Africa to its knees.  

Thus the DA and the EFF are likely to swallow their pride and let history unfold. The big question is: Who would be the president of South Africa under the third scenario?

It would depend on numbers. The biggest party among the four would not give up the top job, president, and the second-biggest would go for the second prize – deputy president. Such is the uncertainty of our second transition.

Those who fear the third scenario may very well start packing their bags to emigrate. And those of us who have nowhere to go must consider how we could support the new government to push things in the right direction.

No one must be under the illusion that things will be easy. The damage done by the ANC is mammoth.

Those among us with a sharp nose for political change can already smell the possibility of Cyril Ramaphosa being the last president of South Africa from the ANC. 

The first president from the party, Mandela, is remembered as a global moral icon. Ramaphosa will go down in history as a spineless and dithering blackguard with loads of unexplained cash under his mattress.

In the end, history will hand down its judgement on the entire ANC – not on individual leaders. Even Nelson Mandela will not escape his association with the party he said he would join after crossing the line between life and death.

Given everything we know now, it is not difficult to foretell that the ANC will be remembered as a bunch of idealists who contributed to the liberation of black people and, when the party was given the opportunity to govern, proved itself to be one of the most corrupt and incompetent criminal gangs in history. DM

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All Comments 22

  • The most accurate assessment I have seen in the media, there is however a 4th scenario, one where the ANC does not relinquish power as it has illustrated in many municipalities it has had to give up.

  • My most likely scenario post 2024 scenario – an EFF / ANC coalition with Julius Malema as deputy president of the country and one of the RET faction ANC members as president.

    • Jan : if that happens it doesn’t matter because then it is game over. Massive capital outflow, no foreign investment, monumental scale corruption, mass emigration even if it is to Namibia and Botswana.

  • I believe that Stockholm syndrome will keep the majority voting for the ANC.
    Sadly any of the other possibilities don’t avoid the same ANC type leadership. We will probably see much of the same.

  • Excellent article! I think that there is going to be an inevitable split down the middle of the ANC with the RET bunch linking up with their fellow crooks – the EFF and the Ramaphosa faction joining forces with the DA and along with some of the smaller parties (Action SA, IFP, FF+ etc.) to form a governing coalition. Quite who would be appointed as the President is a point of conjecture. The first thing a new government needs to do is to get rid of the ridiculous BBBEE nonsense which has caused so much harm to the economy and development of SA.

  • Hear, hear. But you betray your title by not giving a clear answer … and then you’ll say there isn’t one. Who will replace the ANC? Someone of impeccable honesty, with enough backbone to listen to the people’s will. Many could fit this bill, and they’re probably not in any party, thank God. But we can pray and hope.

  • Whew, Prince, you have outdone yourself with this critique. A cogent and meticulous explanation of the undoing of our beloved country. The ANC must know they will lose majority power, so there’s likely further havoc to come as we approach the elections. Very little incentive to change their ways now …

  • I disagree that CR is a criminal…. he has not been convicted of any crime. I am personally aware of huge building blocks and clean ups gping on but it is a mammoth task. CR and many good people are rebuilding from the bottom up. As to who will win next national election, who knows. I think that entity will have a solid foundation to build upon. I hope they can continue CRs good work

  • A succinct article on the reality of the gross betrayal and outright treason committed by the ANC on the SA population . So much goodwill, promise and potential for a better life for all wilfully squandered through grand theft and corruption, total arrogance, gross ineptness and sticking blindly to failed and outdated policies and doctrine a la communist era. The betrayal goes further than just this country. Think of Zimbabwe and how we turned a blind eye to the stolen elections and rubber-stamped them as free and fair. How we support the Putin KGB monster and mass murderer in his brutal and murderous war against a peaceful neighbour. How we close ranks with the worst human rights abusers and murderers in the world. The list is endless. Whilst future coalition governments will be a huge challenge, especially if the equally dishonest, moronic and hypocritical EFF racists and bullies are involved, we cannot continue with the ANC. It is a downward spiral to a failed, bankrupt and doomed state.

  • I just cant imagine the RET faction in the ANC letting go just because of a democratic election so the third option may be likely but not peacefully. It’s not as if we have a well behaved and managed police force nor investigative nor intelligence that will help prevent or manage the “transition”.

    Nonetheless, we must continue to hope and place our faith in the goodwill of ordinary South Africans. I see the generosity of spirit in the streets, every day, from all quarters.

  • Excellent article. The desperation to hold onto power at any cost (especially if the RET faction manages to get back leadership of the ANC) is that issues currently facing the IEC and some dirty tricks by the ANC result in a stolen election.

  • I am not sure I agree with Prince. It is true that the public is baying for blood – but it is the blood of individuals that they bay for (all those charged with corruption), not necessarily the ANC. And in the final analysis the most important role of a government in the eyes of the public is the need to create stability, not revenge. The reason why liberal democratic systems are making progress in the world is because communities expect stability from government. But the top leaders of the EFF does not want stability – they want chaos so they can capitalize on it, either with their own interests or the interests of the party in mind – it is part of their ideological desires. Furthermore, the ANC has contact with the levers of the patronage systems that are so elaborate in SA that it is a major risk to the stability if just being left in the cold all of a sudden. Any coalition, no matter who becomes president and deputy prez, will need to dismantle those systems peacefully, and they will need the ANC assistance with it. We have to keep in mind that this is not going to be about provincial governance such as when the DA took over the Western Cape; it is the national government that holds the key to these undesirable systems this time. It can be compared to like De Klerk’s challenge in 1989 to dismantle the security one-party-state-in-waiting in order to pave the way for democratic SA; it does not happen at provincial or local level.

  • imho the best outcome is if the ANC breaks up. The crazy piece can go to EFF, the saner bits can either stand alone or join ActionSA. Leaving this thing and its internal struggles going as a major party but not majority will just be a recipe for more chaos and violence.

  • The major problem with this analysis is that South African’s traditionally vote with their hearts and not their heads, as witness the voters keeping the NP in power long after their ‘sell by; ‘ date.

  • Whilst Mbeki was mature and sanguine enough to know that question he posed as to -“How are we going to integrate 30 million blacks, mostly poor, in an economic process that is currently controlled by a rich, white elite?” would not be helped even in the slightest by derailing this massive large wheel then driving the South African economy, and that the best course of action would rather be best served by ensuring it’s continued success, enhancing the tax take and thus enabling ever more funds to be available to fund better education and skills development, the only sure way to ensure “a better life for all”.

    Unfortunately Zuma, and increasingly we see now, Malema, are nowhere near as sanguine and each in their own way has sought to subvert the economy, weaken the economy and thus have largely sabotaged the great strides taken over the previous decades – even before the ANC came finally to full control.

    Hindsight is a wonderful tool, but is clear now that a protracted period of a government of unity would now see our country in a significantly better space – imagine what could now be achieved with that extra R1.5 trillion of known damage, plus the further 500 billion resulting from the 2021 Zuma-inspired looting damage, and the further hundreds of billions that would have flowed from an economy continuing to fire!!

  • There are two big issues that I see:
    1) South Africa is a tribal and religious country, and this impacts how the majority vote – “I am black, therefore I vote ANC”. Trump has cleverly achieved the same affinity between religion and Republicans.
    2) In 1994 the majority of ANC liberation fighters wanted to improve the lives of black South Africans. Now, people choose to go into politics because they see it as a way of making a lot of money (why else would they be killing each other for positions). This has led to completely the wrong people in power.
    Articles like this are trememdously helpful because well respected black individuals are confirming that the ANC is dead. What we need to talk about is how we get that message across to the ANC’s ‘congregation’, and how we encourage new entrants into politics who put the interests of the people first?

  • The ANC is a “death party walking”. Unfortunately, the DA is too blind to make the right decisions and have non-white leaders in top positions to take over the country. A chance of the decade wasted.

  • I do hope that our president reads this excellent article. Perhaps he could copy it to the NEC?
    Those within the ANC top brass who can actually read, should do so.

  • There is a fourth scenario – the best possible scenario is if the ANC splits this weekend. That would open the door to a coalition between the “good” ANC, the DA and some smaller likeminded parties. However, the real challenge will come after the election, when they start governing. Or rather, start ATTEMPTING to govern. The state is rotten with cadres, and the unions would have sided with the RET. Together, they can and will sabotage every step a new Government makes. Tighten your seatbelts because the roughest ride is still coming.

  • We do not have to be afraid of a coalition government. It is the only way to go. The ANC have demonstrated that they are a criminal gang masquerading as politicians. Let’s move forward and pursued the current opposition and emerging parties to work together and to put a stop to further decline of SA. We can do it.

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