ANC shedding support – wants to ‘mend its ways’

The first step to fixing a problem is understanding you have the problem in the first place. In the National General Council document there’s a line where the ANC says it wants to ‘mend its ways’ as it realises it has lost support where the DA and EFF have gained, but then again this is the same document which highlighted an anti-west stance. The statement does offer some relief for a population that seeks direction in a somewhat tumultuous landscape littered with corruption, misguided policy construction and poor leadership. But another problem is this very same question was brought up 3 years ago but on the surface nothing has changed, and this horse may have already bolted. But if this desire to fix things is met with execution, then the optimist in me says it could be first step towards a turn around but the first step would require a major shakeup. – Stuart Lowman

President Jacob Zuma

by Genevieve Quintal, News24

Johannesburg – The ANC has realised it needs to “mend its ways” after shedding support in the last two national elections.

This is contained in a discussion document released by the ruling African National Congress, in which it acknowledges it has lost support – especially in the metros.

“The negative trends… [are] an injunction for the ANC to mend its ways,” the party said in its National General Council discussion document titled “balance of forces”.

It said this was not a new discovery but a reinstatement of the resolutions taken at its 2012 conference.

The most dramatic shifts have been in the country’s major cities with the ANC’s support dropping by an aggregate of 10.3% points.

The NGC, which is a mid-term review, comes two-and-a-half years after the ANC’s 2012 Mangaung conference, and is expected to be held from October 9 to 12 at Gallagher Estate in Midrand, Gauteng.

During the release of the NGC discussion documents last week, ANC national executive committee member Lindiwe Sisulu said the party always tried be introspective.

“In fact we are able to stand up here and say there are unsavoury developments in government… is partly because of our introspection.

Shake up membership of party

“But it doesn’t take away [from the fact] that other people use our own introspection against us as though they have discovered them and we are not aware of them. We did deal with those unsavoury aspects which is why we are going to the NGC to deal with all those problems,” she said.

Political analyst Susan Booysen said this document had a function – which was to shake up the membership of the party.

“They have to shake up the membership to make the membership understand, if they don’t already do, that this is serious business and things have to improve otherwise there is going to be a serious problem,” she told News24.

But the document was a “compromise” document.

“It’s public and they can’t confess too much. But simultaneously they have to shake up their own membership and get responses out the conference like this… Even if they just want to maintain their existing position, they have to get their members to get a sense that they are under threat.”

In the “balance of forces” document, the ANC concedes that while its support in the metros has dropped the, support for Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters has increased.

The EFF gained 11.4% and the DA’s support grew by 6.5 percentage points.

According to the ANC it has lost support among the “lower and upper middle strata among Africans” as well as the poorest of the poor.

This introspection comes with less than a year to go until the local government elections where the fight is expected to be for the country’s metros.

“The first major issue is that sentiment for social transformation remains strong; but some of the motive forces no longer consider the ANC as the representative of such change,” the ANC said in its document.

Leadership status, role under threat 

“Secondly, there is patent impatience with the pace of change – and this expresses itself among the poorest society as well as some African professionals and youth.”

Another issue was that a section of the black middle-class, identified as coloured, Indians and a small segment of Africans, were now seeing the DA as the party which was representing their interests.

“Fourthly, the choices also reflect the rising primacy of current issues such as manifestations of corruption and Gauteng e-tolls in electoral decisions…”

The ANC feels its leadership status and role are under threat and says other “political forces” sought to exploit its weaknesses in order to dislodge the party.

The party said disruptive and near-illegal campaigns could initiate mass uprising or other actions which could “goad” the state into precipitating action.

The disruptions in Parliament and, what it calls “on the extreme”, the Marikana shooting were used as examples.

“The obvious intention of these forces is to improve their electoral prospects and, by democratic means, to displace the ANC as government across the spheres,” the ANC said.

“This is rough, clumsy and distasteful; but it is legal political engagement all the same. It behoves the ANC to develop tactics that obviate the impact and attractiveness of these trickeries.”

However, the ANC said it needed to address the question of whether it was creating “fertile ground” for this to happen.

Booysen said talk of a threat was used to mobilise ANC members.

“They have to look at how they are going to manage to get their members to act and if they make it sound like this is a serious crisis [they will],” she said.

The party was mobilising its forces into counter attack.

“They have recognised that the balance of forces is changing.

“Like it says, the middle-class is not jumping lock, stock and barrel to the DA and low-classes are not just jumping over to the EFF for example but there is solid recognition in that document that these class-forces cannot be taken for granted anymore, and race class forces cannot be taken for granted and I think the document shows that they are not taken for granted,” Booysen said.


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