Will the 2024 elections be the end of the era of ANC rule or will the ANC be able to course correct and regain its dominance as the ruling party in the next elections? This week has been a tough week for the ANC as they have had to reckon with being closed out of power in metros. The nation was shocked this week when the Economic Freedom Fighters(EFF) and newcomers ActionSA used their seats in Gauteng councils to vote for Democratic Alliance mayors.
Can the ANC survive? This is the question which is front and centre on the minds of all South Africans as they watch opposition coalitions deny the ANC from governing the major metropolitan areas following the local government elections of 2021.
The general consensus of the 2021 local government elections is that the ANC suffered from voter frustrations with service delivery and from the public anger at the continuation of corrupt practices. These two factors are considered to have contributed to lack of excitement from its traditional voter base and hence subdued turnout.
There is merit to this strand of analysis but it is incomplete because it ignores the impact of internal squabbles and the extent of factionalism within the ANC. Cyril Ramaphosa did not win a decisive victory in the 2017 conference and his narrow win indicated that he did not enjoy universal support in the party. The Zuma camp of the party shared support with him. In the years following the conference the party has tried to stamp out what is being called the RET faction. In so doing this has caused internal party tensions which have adversely affected the health of the party.
Can the ANC save itself? The ANC will have to accept that it needs a healthy and vibrant youth league. In order to resuscitate its party prospects the ANC will need to return to the drawing board and allow the youth to operate autonomously and with the right amount of financial support. The current task team structure that has been running the youth league has not been able to create solid structures and has not been able to galvanise the youth across the country. Without reigniting its youth base the ANC will not be able to attract young people in sufficient amounts to turn the tide.
The ANC leadership is hesitant to unleash the youth league because of a fear of creating another Julius Malema. There is an appreciation that the conditions on the ground are likely to lead to radicalisation of the youth, when poverty and inequality are dominant in society, the youth of the country will call for robust and radical interventions to address them. A robust youth league is likely to be powerful and influential in determining the next party leadership, the concern is that this is too much power to give the youth. However the ANC senior leadership can’t let fear get in their way, they have to embrace the energy and vitality of the youth and find ways of incorporating their radical ideas into party policy.
The ANC leadership will also have to make peace in order to put a united front to their supporters. The battle between the Ramaphosa faction and the Radical Economic Transformation (RET) faction has not been healthy for the party. It has been a messy and very public fight, it is a fight which only serves to frustrate the general party membership. As the party prepares for the 2022 elective conference there needs to be a new approach to contestations for position. There needs to be a process of dealing with corruption that does not seem driven by factional interests.
The prospects of the party embracing this approach are not high. The factional fights are likely to continue and the youth are likely to remain sidelined in the organisation. 2024 is going to be a tough election year for the ANC, there are more opposition voices, there are more frustrations from the public. 2021 may have been tough for the ANC but 2024 may be much tougher.
Read on The Giraffe Outlook website at https://thegiraffe.co.za/2021/11/24/can-the-anc-recover/
Author – Jamie Mighti
Jamie Mighti is an analyst and researcher focused on the fields of Law, Business and Politics. He shares his inputs on various national media platforms. He holds a LLB from Wits University and a PDBA from Wits Business School. Jamie is an award-winning debater and has won the top trophy at the African Universities debating championships three times. He writes in his personal capacity.