UNDICTATED: Frans Cronje on big KZN voter swing; ANC endorsing Hamas barbarism

In this episode of UNDICTATED, independent political and economic analyst Dr Frans Cronje tackles two topical subjects with BizNews editor Alec Hogg – massive voter shifts in KZN and the ANC’s monumental foreign affairs blunder. Cronje, who heads the Social Research Foundation, shares the latest research on voters in South Africa’s most populous province, where the country’s ruling party is in a downward spiral. And then moves onto the ANC’s public support for Hamas after its terrorists murdered hundreds of Israeli civilians – condemning Pretoria’s stated position as siding with barbarism and urging a rapid recant. – Alec Hogg

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:09 – Introductions
  • 01:17 – Frans Cronje on how the polls look at the moment in KZN
  • 04:15 – Why people still vote for the ANC
  • 07:02 – Jacob Zuma
  • 12:40 – Coalition governments and ActionSA
  • 17:36 – ANC supporting Palestine
  • 23:38 – Consequences for SA in this divide of opinion regarding Israel/Palestine
  • 27:47 – Conclusions

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Edited transcript of Alec Hogg’s interview with Dr Frans Cronje, independent political and economic analyst and head of the Social Research Foundation.

In this episode of Undictated, we speak with Dr. Frans Cronje, independent political and economic analyst and head of the Social Research Foundation. We discuss the battle for the province of KwaZulu-Natal, where the latest polling shows both sides of South Africa’s political divide below 50 percent. We’ll delve into what this means for the multi-party charterists, the ANC, and its possible EFF coalition.

Alec Hogg: It’s always a pleasure to talk with you, Frans. You excel at providing context on our complex political landscape. My colleague, Chris Steyn, recently cited Social Research Foundation data on KwaZulu-Natal’s electoral volatility. Can you unpack the current state of the polls for us?

Frans Cronje: Certainly. We conducted a focused study in KZN about a month ago. The ANC has dropped from 54-55% in the 2019 election to around 40%. Meanwhile, support for other parties like the DA and the EFF has been relatively stable. If these numbers hold, KZN could become one of South Africa’s first coalition governments, with Gauteng potentially following suit.

Frans Cronje: This shift has broader implications. If the ANC fails to govern KZN or Gauteng, it risks becoming isolated in less populous, rural provinces. Even if it retains a national majority, the ANC could become increasingly irrelevant, particularly among South Africa’s growing middle class.

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Alec Hogg: That’s significant. Considering the ageing leadership of the ANC, why do you think people would still vote for them, especially given the state of the country?

Frans Cronje: In urban areas, the ANC would only garner about 30% of the vote, as it has already lost the younger, aspirational middle class. However, the ANC could attract between 60 and 70% support in rural areas. These are often older, less educated individuals who remember the harshness of apartheid. Their support keeps the ANC’s numbers above 50%. However, demographic trends suggest that even this rural base is eroding, posing a severe risk to the ANC’s future relevance.

Frans Cronje: The deals made in KZN and Gauteng will be critical. If the ANC loses governance in these provinces, its decline will only accelerate. Our recent sample in the Western Cape showed that the EFF had replaced the ANC as the official opposition there, indicating that the ANC quickly fades into irrelevance where it doesn’t govern. If the ANC is excluded from government in those two provinces, it will have significant implications.

Alec Hogg: KZN is a mostly rural area and still the most populous province in South Africa. How does Jacob Zuma factor into this? Is he a boon or a bane for the ANC?

Frans Cronje: Urban South Africans often find this hard to grasp, but Jacob Zuma is extremely popular in KZN. His favourability scores are off the charts, rivalling even Mandela’s in that region. However, popularity doesn’t necessarily translate to votes. It’s a double-edged sword for the ANC: if they appear to be targeting Zuma, they risk losing significant support in KZN. On the flip side, if they embrace him, they alienate middle-class voters in places like Gauteng.

Read more: THE KILLING FIELDS OF KZN: Political assassins killing for contracts & Municipal funds transferred at gunpoint…

Frans Cronje: We’re witnessing a fragmentation of the country’s politics—along ethnic, class, and regional lines. Maintaining a ‘broad church’ of support is becoming increasingly difficult for the ANC. In the longer term, we predict that South Africa’s political landscape will shift so that no single party dominates. The ANC must decide whether to double down on its rural base, making it increasingly irrelevant, or to adapt and form coalitions to attract South Africa’s younger, urban, aspirational middle-class voting market.

Alec Hogg: The ANC has made a series of poor decisions over the last 30 years, as we see with the situation in Tshwane. What do you think coalition governments might face, given this history? Also, how is ActionSA, especially in KZN, targeting its coalition partner, the DA, rather than the ANC? Is a partnership between ActionSA and the ANC possible?

Frans Cronje: The momentum that ActionSA once had in Gauteng has slowed. Herman Mashaba, their leader, has not been positioned as a presidential figure who tackles serious issues. He’s become perceived as the opposition to the opposition, often focusing on less critical matters. This is reversible, but his positioning needs to change.

As for coalitions, one option is between the ANC and the IFP in Natal. At the national and Gauteng levels, another favoured coalition is between the ANC and the DA. Parties should not go into elections with a fixed view of their coalition options.

Given the sometimes erratic demands and behaviours of smaller parties in existing coalitions, it’s not implausible that bigger parties might find common ground for the sake of stability. Parties like the ANC, DA, and IFP should remain open to discussions about forming coalitions at both provincial and national levels. While the ANC still holds more than 50% support, that may change by 2029. Established parties should consider forming a national and provincial government as an alternative to relying on smaller, less stable partners.

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Alec Hogg: The ANC’s stance on Palestine quickly alienates them from potential partners like the DA. What are your thoughts on this, especially considering the ANC’s immediate response to recent events?

Frans Cronje: The ANC’s stance won’t change. Much hasn’t been covered in our media about the attacks and the context in Southern Africa, where Salafi jihadism is rising. The ANC knew early on about the terrible violence inflicted against Israel last week. Their alliance is with those driving the attacks—Hamas, Iran, and their global allies. There’s no moral equivalence between the Palestinian cause and the actions of Israel’s security forces.

Media narratives about the occupation of Gaza are misleading. Israel left Gaza 20 years ago. Gazans then elected Hamas, who, instead of building a successful community, sabotaged it. They converted aid into weapons and ignored infrastructural development. The stance of Hamas and Iran can’t be moderated.

While I sympathised with the ANC’s views on Russia, their association with the barbarism perpetuated by Hamas and Iran is unforgivable. They should disavow these groups and remove Iran from the BRICS deal. Israel is the leading democracy in the Middle East, offering its citizens a high degree of freedom and civil liberties.

There’s a clear divide: you’re either on Israel’s side or not. Hamas and Iran will continue their brutalities until civilised societies stop them, a camp to which South Africa currently does not belong.

Alec Hogg: Given the divide you’ve laid out, what are the implications for South Africa?

Frans Cronje: The West is losing interest in the Middle East, which isn’t just a Middle Eastern issue. Israel should secure its future by eliminating threats like Hamas. This isn’t just about Israel; it’s about the ideology that fuels violence globally, including in Africa. In South Africa and the broader region, Salafi jihadists, who share ideologies with Hamas, have targeted Christians.

So, the ANC needs to rethink its position. It’s not just a question of morality but of self-interest. By indirectly supporting these groups, the ANC also supports the violence perpetrated against hundreds of Christians across Africa. There’s no moral equivalence between Israel’s actions and those of its enemies, and that’s something more people in South Africa need to realise.

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