The ANC faces its biggest challenge since the struggle against apartheid. It braces for a pivotal election this year. The party is battle-worn and grappling with financial constraints. The ANC is dealing with corruption, a sluggish economy, power outages, and soaring crime rates. However, polls show the party should secure a majority in the upcoming parliamentary vote. However, internal strife and widespread disillusionment threaten to diminish its voter share, potentially pushing it into an uneasy power-sharing arrangement.
William Gumede, a politics professor at the University of the Witwatersrand, notes, “Right now, the ANC is at its most divided, yet it is facing the most critical election since 1994.”
In 2023, former president Jacob Zuma declared war against the party. He pledged allegiance to the new Umkhonto We Sizwe (MK) party, also known as the Spear of the Nation. Despite being marred by scandal, Zuma maintained influence and criticised the government of his successor, President Cyril Ramaphosa, labelling them “sellouts and apartheid collaborators.”
With ANC support steadily declining since its peak in 2004, hovering at 57 per cent in 2019, there is a looming possibility that in the 2024 election, 30 years after its ascent to power, the ANC might dip below 50 per cent for the first time. A poll in October hinted at a 45 per cent standing, down from 52 per cent in March, potentially exacerbated by Zuma’s involvement.
Political analysts suggest that Zuma’s intervention might further diminish ANC’s standing, tapping into his home province, KwaZulu Natal, where he has a significant following. A political analyst, Susan Booysen, notes, “He has both that identity appeal and a rebel appeal to angry voters.”
The ANC, facing pressure from smaller radical parties like the Economic Freedom Fighters, might be compelled into a coalition if its vote share hovers around 46-49 per cent. A dip below 45 per cent could threaten Ramaphosa’s leadership.
Ramaphosa remains confident, addressing ANC supporters and dismissing speculations about the party’s demise. However, the political future of Africa’s most advanced economy remains uncertain, navigating uncharted waters and avoiding potential pitfalls amidst internal strife and the rise of opposition parties like Zuma’s MK and the EFF.
Picture: X / ShaiAfrika
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