The ANC received its media predicated wake up call on the polls of August 3. Immediately, as has been in previous elections, pundits ran to call the results a direct voter rebuke against the ANC and in particular its leader and country president Jacob Zuma. Without any fair analysis of election data, the punditry chorus has said “It’s Zuma”. Simple mathematics is that Zuma has had too many public scandals with the media and the courts pounding at him. The 2016 local government elections came less than two years since the 2014 national elections where Zuma led the ANC’s landslide victory albeit with a reduced majority of 62.15% from his own record of 65.90% obtained in 2009. In the national elections of 2009, the ANC received 11 650
748 votes, gaining 65.90%. In the elections before that it received 10 880 915 votes, gaining 69.69%. In 1999, the ANC received 10 601 330 votes and gained 66.35%. The immediate question is why is getting more votes reducing the
percentage gained? Elections are driven by two things; voter registration and voter turnout – the actual number of people who turn up to vote on voting day.
Voter registration is the first effort a voter makes to show interest or some commitment to vote. It is also the first political
battle towards winning an election. It begs the question: why are likely ANC voters registering to vote but not turning up to cast their ballots? What is the real reason aside from the Zuma scapegoating simplicity? In 2004, the reason was found to be lack of transport to the voting stations leading to the ANC making transport available. Under Zuma, the ANC has managed to get more of its base to register and vote compared to all previous ANC presidents with population adjustments and new age voters considered.
What is clear is that the Zuma media phenomenon plays a role in galvanizing the opposition parties and their voters into the polls and in registering to vote more than the ANC does achieve. The higher the turnout of the opposition voters, a higher turnout of ANC voters is needed. If the ANC achieves some growth but not enough for the equilibrium, the numbers will be against it. In the recent local elections, 25 million people registered to vote. However, some 10 million decided not to vote. Common analysis is that the no-shows are ANC voters. The ANC has to, as usual; dissect this data carefully without emotion or hype. The dissection has to be broad to look at the actual politics of voting, the social issues around voting and other aspects of
our body politic. Introspection is one thing, but introspection with accurate analysis is another.
As the ANC leads via group leadership, it will pay to avoid individual blame game, which could lead to more fracture within and alienate those who voted for the ANC. ANC voters vote mostly for policies and history not individuals. There are serious questions to be asked including whether the Zuma related negative news had any significant and material direct effect on voter turnout. Voters have not chosen the DA or the EFF in any large numbers; the DA has only managed to penetrate just 5% of the black vote but has historically secured 90% of Coloureds, Indians and Whites. A political question to be asked is why these minority groups have consistently turned away from the ANC even under Nelson Mandela.
ANC members within the minorities (Whites, Indians and Coloureds) ought to provide insight to the movement on why it is hard for the ANC to break the tribe like mentality on voting patterns that have their history in apartheid’s tri-cameral parliament where these minority groups were South African citizens prior to Blacks being granted the same status in 1993 by FW de Klerk. Often, ANC leaders from these minority groups appear to work mostly in African communities and mobilizing there instead of their own neighborhoods, as apartheid segregation legacy has us. Before the elections, the ANC identified corruption, jobs and crime as three top issues its voting base was uneasy about; civic services came at a medium feeling. If these elections results were a conscious vote and not typical human laziness, the ANC, during this time of introspection must ask itself what more can be done to visibly deal with the top three issues in a manner that regains it trust from its base.
Chief amongst introspective analysis must be the new tendency of many within the ANC running to the media to rubbish the ANC itself. These acts add to disunity and voter confusion. It is voter turnout and not policy. It is likely personality issues had an effect on policy. Thus the introspection can be largely focused. Is it just natural voter apathy or much deeper? What are the effects of being the single pounding bag of all business sectors, all NGOs, all media, all political parties and other special interest groups? How does the ANC get its voter turnout increased by 15% in 2019? As we analyse key sample area numbers, we see that the ANC is still leading Orange Farm by 78%, Soweto by 69% and Alexandra by 61% and troubled Diepsloot by 63% in these elections. But we also see that the Diepsloot ANC lead in 2011 was 88% compared to 63% this time. Likewise, Alexandra’s ANC lead in 2011 was 85% compared to 61% now.