Frans Cronje gives ANC hope for Election24, but disgusted at another “sale” of SA foreign affairs

Political scientist Dr Frans Cronje’s poll-based Election24 projections for the ANC are more favourable than everyone else, including the party itself. But in this forthright interview, Cronje explains how seen from a historical perspective, his forecast of an ANC vote of around 50% is actually catastrophic, reflective of a deeply embedded downward spiral. He says the penny has already dropped among urban voters where the party is supported by only one-third of voters. Worse is coming, he adds, predicting the ANC will pay a very heavy price for continued abuse of State assets – notably among its currently staunch rural Christian base after the sale once more of SA’s global voice, this time to radical fundamentalists. The chairman of the board of the Social Research Foundation is at his brilliant best here. He spoke to BizNews editor Alec Hogg.

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Relevant timestamps from the interview

  • 00:00 – Introductions
  • 01:23 – Predictions for the upcoming elections
  • 03:09 – Why his predictions are more favourable for the ANC than other commentators
  • 06:50 – On new political parties entering the elections
  • 11:53 – On SA’s ICJ case against Israel at the Hague
  • 14:53 – On South Africa’s international standing
  • 20:18 – On David Teeger being stripped of the u19 Proteas captaincy
  • 22:36 – Ends

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Edited transcript of the interview

___STEADY_PAYWALL___

Alec Hogg: Dr. Frans Cronje is a political scientist and chairman of the board of directors of the Social Research Foundation. He’s also highly regarded in the business community and is set to deliver a keynote at the upcoming business conference in March, from the 12th to the 14th. Today, we’ll discuss updates on major issues.

Alec Hogg: I’ve received recommendations from several people to hear your insights on the state of the Middle East. Also, I want to touch on the related issue involving the under-19 cricket captain, David Teeger. But let’s begin with the South African election. Can you provide an update on the current situation? What outcome would you anticipate if the election were held today?

Frans Cronje: The ANC is on a knife edge, hovering around the 50% mark. This means it could govern nationally with one or two smaller parties. However, in Gauteng, it’s expected to be in the 30s, and it might lose in KZN. The DA is strengthening in the Western Cape, indicating a small ANC majority nationally. Coalition deals will be crucial in Johannesburg, Gauteng, and KZN, with the DA dominating in the Western Cape.

This aligns with a long-term trend, projecting ANC support in the high 30s to low 40s in the 2029 election. A significant political transition for South Africa is imminent, with the outcome depending on deals made in Gauteng and KZN.

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

Alec Hogg: This might disappoint those hoping for the ANC to secure less than 40%. Why is your outlook more optimistic for the ANC than others?

Frans Cronje: My perspective is both optimistic and catastrophic for the ANC. It’s no longer the colossus it was in 2004, now fighting for survival. Losing major urban centres indicates a shift among cosmopolitan, urban, aspirant, and established, better-educated middle classes—a constituency the ANC has permanently surrendered. The country is changing rapidly, and this change is positive.

Historically, we are in the minority of emerging markets and post-colonial African societies that could peacefully change administrations in times of economic trouble. Despite past challenges, my outlook is more positive, foreseeing a move towards a centrist coalition government by the end of this decade. While not extraordinary, it suggests we’re likely to maintain a fairly free society, avoiding collapse or catastrophe.

This perspective differs from the doom view. The likely outcome, on balance, is a more centrist coalition government, ensuring a society where you can shape your community, living standards, and business to maintain a relatively high standard of living. This scenario is less likely to lead to societal collapse compared to the more upside option, which I’ve outlined in various forums over the last two years.

Alec Hogg: It’s all about perspective. Several new political parties are hoping for significant support. Gayton McKenzie, Herman Mashaba, and Songezo Zibi with Rise Mzanzsi are generating discussions. What’s your take on these new entrants?

Frans Cronje: Our regular and serious polling indicates minimal support for these newcomers. Gayton is not performing well, and Mmusi Maimane is progressing slowly. Herman Mashaba is far from his initial potential, around three to four percent. The smaller parties are crucial on the 50% knife edge, where even 1% can make them influential kingmakers. However, the hype around them is overstated. The Democratic Alliance is growing, consolidating its support among the urban middle class, while the EFF struggles to exceed 11%, 12%, or 13% in the polls.

Despite the poverty in South Africa’s poor communities, the far-left EFF’s radicalism gains limited traction. The country’s public opinion remains centrist and moderate. Democratic change, though imperfect, has been peaceful, avoiding violent scenarios like Gaza or Zimbabwe. A move towards a centrist coalition government seems likely, allowing for a competitive environment for South Africa’s relatively prosperous middle class.

Alec Hogg: Your perspective is intriguing. Looking at the sweep of history, political changes are often smaller than anticipated. Shifting to the Middle East, a global concern, South Africa is in the midst of it.

In your IFM interview, you expressed strong views on South Africa’s court action in the Hague, suggesting it could be another form of state capture. Explain that for us.

Frans Cronje: The ANC has a track record of engaging in what could be considered state capture in various forms. In the 1990s, they approached countries like Indonesia, Taiwan, and Nigeria, seeking financial support in exchange for diplomatic favours or softening criticism of authoritarian regimes. Millions of dollars changed hands for party funding and foreign policy influence. This history raises questions about the current actions being purely honourable, given the past track record of such engagements.

Read more: Cronje: Voters say DA’s W Cape template shining ever brighter; Great AGOA news

Alec Hogg: Overlaying the financial problems the ANC faced, these seemed to vanish coincidentally with the court action. Leasing the country’s international voice seems a compelling argument. However, how strong and credible is that voice now, considering the awareness of the international community?

Frans Cronje: The ANC’s international voice is weakening, particularly due to recent strategic mistakes in foreign policy positions, such as praising China and aligning with Russia. The once fervent support from Western liberal democracies is waning. In associating with non-free world powers, the ANC risks losing support from South Africa’s cosmopolitan urban middle class. The recent associations might accelerate the erosion of ANC’s support, especially among black conservative Christians, given their concerns about the party’s support for Hamas.

Alec Hogg: It’s a perspective that raises important considerations. Shifting to a different topic, let’s discuss the case of David Teeger, the 19-year-old cricketer. Cricket South Africa’s decision to remove him as captain due to threats related to his Jewish identity is sparking controversy. How do you interpret this situation?

Frans Cronje: Cricket South Africa’s decision to remove David Teeger as captain appears to be driven by pure anti-Semitism and a desire to silence a Jew with strong opinions. The claim of a security threat seems contrived and is likely a pretext to justify this discriminatory action. This incident is seen as one of the most disgraceful acts of racism and discrimination in sports administration since 1994. There’s growing international pressure on Cricket South Africa, and if they don’t address this issue, a thorough investigation is deemed necessary to expose the background and hold those accountable whose actions went beyond the interests of the game.

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