No doubt 2016 turned out strenuous for all, especially the ruling African National Congress (ANC) who is now left with an immense fear for its future.
No doubt, the devastating defeat suffered by the ruling party – during the 2016 local government elections – seems to put a bleak picture of the ANC future.
Some have even gone as far as to predict that those polls may spell the beginning of the end for the mighty ANC. President Jacob Zuma’s line on the matter was that 22 years into democracy, the ANC was bound to experience a decline in support.
At the rate that things continue to deteriorate, it’s hard to see how the governing party can reverse the electoral decline ahead of the 2019 general elections. It is evident that ANC leaders are divided on what approach to adopt to deal with the difficulties the party faces, in particular how to restore the confidence of South Africans in the ANC.
Nevertheless, the ruling party is still determined to see a huge political turn around come 2017. Despite the being divided into factions, the party’s dominant group known as the Premier League – spearheaded by Mpumalanga Premier David Mabuza, North West Premier Supra Mahumapelo, and Free State Premier Ace Magashule, – has taken it upon themselves to protect the party and defend its course for the sake of 2019 general election.
2017 will, therefore, have the ANC focusing more on who succeeds Zuma in the coming year. The party will also pull much effort to regain people’s trust so it would remain the ruling party.
With Ramaphosa and Dlamini-Zuma having indicated their interest in contesting for the party’s top position, it is, however, inevitable that party leaders will put their energy into campaigning for their preferred candidates rather than finding ways to reverse its electoral decline.
Of course, with the ANC’s support having declined from 62% in 2011 to 54% in 2016, the task to lead the party to victory will be daunting for the new ANC leader.
Analysts argue that the ANC has not shown any sense of urgency in addressing the causes for its losing the metros of Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay. Instead, the focus has now shifted to the party’s succession battle. This will no doubt have a devastating effect on the party’s performance in the 2019 elections.
Political observers also noted that though Dlamini-Zuma is rated as one of the best leaders the ANC has produced, her association with those who defend the controversial state capture and other Zuma scandals has severely tarnished her image.
People inside and outside the ANC view her candidacy as a ploy by Zuma to extend his influence beyond his term of office.
There’s no doubt that opposition parties will use this point as a campaigning tool ahead of the 2019 general elections.
Ramaphosa, on the other hand, is seen as someone who is unlikely to place the interests of the working class at the top of his list of priorities. His repeated defence of Zuma in the past has not done him any favours.
Whichever may be the case, 2017 will further expose the true nature if the ruling party. Perhaps, the coming year will be more dramatic for the party than it experienced this year.
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