South Africa: could divisions within local coalitions bode ill for the ANC’s 2024 electoral prospects?

by MMC
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A proposal by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to end all local government coalition agreements with the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) will soon be considered by the National Coalition Task Force.

As national elections approach – expected to take place between May and mid-August next year – questions arise over whether this divide will help or hinder the ANC’s re-election chances.

Political denigration

It was widely reported in the South African media that not all members of the ANC’s National Executive Committee (NEC) favored a coalition with the EFF.

The NEC – the party’s main executive body – is made up of senior politicians, including the president, vice president and general secretary.

A 2021 report by The courier and the tutor quotes a prominent CEN member who said, shortly after the November municipal elections, that most CEN members “declared that under no circumstances could they be ransomed by the EFF“.

Tensions are highest in Ekurhuleni, a metropolitan region in eastern Gauteng province, where the ANC and EFF have reached a power-sharing deal. But city leaders disagree with allegations of corruption coming from both sides.

Perhaps the most scathing assessment of this strained relationship came from the ANC’s head of political education, David Makhura, at the NEC session last month. Makhura referred to the EFF in a document seen by The Daily Maverick as a “dictatorially run proto-fascist party”, adding that the coalition damages the ANC’s brand image.

A bumpy road to 2024?

With a split at local government level looking highly likely, the jury is out on whether a potentially messy split from the EFF will impact the ruling party’s re-election prospects when South Africans go to the polls next year.

“As 2024 approaches, the ANC has its back against the wall,” says political scientist Lévy Ndou. The Africa Report.

“Although on an ideological level there are similarities, on a personality level these parties do not agree.”

Ndou, calling the EFF and ANC “enemies”, says both parties have work to do and the divide at local government level is an uphill battle.

On the one hand, the EFF must prove that it is indeed a better alternative to the ruling party, while the ANC must “return to its roots” and convince its support base to vote again.

Ndou notes a lack of confidence in viable candidates among South African citizens. “You will notice that in previous local elections many people did not turn out to vote. »

There appears to be no clear path to victory for the ruling party, which has recently scored below 50% in several polls. The Africa report contacted ANC spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri for comment but received no response at the time of publication.

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