Despite the African National Congress (ANC) emerging victorious with an overwhelming 62% majority in South Africa’s recent election, there’s reason for the party to be weary. The ANC now finds itself facing the danger of losing the urban vote. In the 2016 municipal elections they could lose key metropolitan areas including Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay.
The election results show opposition parties are gaining in urban areas. The Democratic Alliance (DA) particularly did well in Cape Town and Johannesburg after fierce campaigning. The DA got 30.78% of the Gauteng vote from 21.27% in 2009 and 29.76% of the votes in Johannesburg, up from 20.80%. In Nelson Mandela Bay, the ANC got under 50% of the vote and the DA is confident they can take the prize in 2016. “People used to say we are a party of minorities. Well we got more than one million new votes and 700 000 of those votes are from black South Africans who have never voted for the DA before… We have broken the ceiling,” said DA party leader Helen Zille after the DA got just over four million votes in the national election. She said the party would immediately start working towards the municipal elections.
While the DA is confident for 2016, the ANC has to focus on what went wrong. They came out victorious in the highly contested Gauteng province, but the party dropped to 55% from 65% in 2009. New kids on the block, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), also played a role in the ANC’s declining urban vote. The EFF garnered 451,318 votes in Gauteng, equaling 10.30%.
The ANC is now facing the threat of losing metros in the upcoming 2016 elections. “The big story of this election from the ANC’s perspective is that there is a real prospect that the ANC is in danger of becoming a primarily rural party,” said political analyst Steven Friedman after the elections. The increased competition provided by the DA and EFF is providing more space for citizens to have their voices heard and campaign for change.
Another reason which I think the ANC is losing the urban vote is because we have better education opportunities in the cities. The more society gets educated, the more we become more analytical and critical of corruption and the mismanagement of public funds.
President Zuma’s scandals ever since taking office also play a huge role in the loss of the urban vote. The scandals have received much media attention and people in urban areas who have access to more than just SABC get exposed to more information. In 2011, Zuma promised that government would create five million jobs over 10 years, meaning half a million jobs would be created every year between 2010 and 2020. But three years later, only half of the 1.5 million jobs have been created. In fact, Zille says things are getting worse: “More than one out of every three South Africans is unemployed. Over 1.4 million more people have become unemployed since President Zuma took office in 2009.”
Many in the urban middle class want an end to corruption and mismanagement of public funds. The unemployed and the poor in cities want jobs and better service delivery. These urban voters are slowly becoming more and more disillusioned with the ANC and there’s increased support for a change in government.
While the ANC still controls most of South Africa’s big metros and won the recent elections with a large majority, the polls show that support for the party is declining. 2016 will be the big test and don’t be surprised if we see a change in government in either Tshwane, Johannesburg or Nelson Mandela Bay municipalities.
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Photography by: @RofhiwaManeta
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