The ANC is dying, and will lose its parliamentary majority at or before the 2024 national elections, says the head of the unit for risk analysis at the SA Institute of Race Relations.
In a policy brief published by the institute, Frans Cronje, who is also SAIRR deputy CEO, said the ruling party had entered a period of terminal decline.
Cronje said the party’s demise was now inevitable, and it was time for South Africans to start considering a future without it.
“We do not make this forecast recklessly but rather because the evidence points overwhelmingly in this direction,” said Cronje.
He said ANC support among South Africans was falling rapidly.
“It is true the ANC won 63 percent of the national vote in 1994 and increased that to 65.9 percent in 2009. However, this figure is misleading as it ignores the growing number of people who are choosing not to vote at all.
“While more than five out of 10 South Africans turned out to vote for the ANC in 1994, that figure (fell) to less than four out of 10 in the 2009 election. In a sense the ANC, for all its pretension as the ‘will of the people’, is now a minority government.”
The decline in ANC support did not result from an opposition party drawing its supporters, but from a growing number of people losing confidence in the party.
“Data from the police suggests that they are now responding to three service delivery protests every day.”
Cronje said the decline in ANC support and the rise in protest action had little to do with alleged failures in service delivery.
The drop in support had its origins in several areas. Among these he highlighted the overall failure of the public school system, and corruption.
“Only one out of every two black South Africans who enter Grade 1 will ever reach matric and only one out of 10 will pass maths. Hence black South Africans… have limited means to increase their own living standards outside of what the state, and by extension, the ANC can give them… “
The party had put candidates convicted of fraud and corruption on its election lists. “What this shows is that the ANC is not serious about addressing the failed education, low growth, unemployment, and corruption… If it is not addressing the reasons for its decline, it follows that the party must be in terminal decline,” Cronje said.
As to when the ANC’s national support levels would dip below 50 percent, opening the door to an opposition coalition to govern, “we think 2014 is too early, 2019 is plausible but uncertain, and 2024 is probable… “
Political analyst Professor Susan Booysen said Cronje’s analysis “is way out of touch with reality. It disregards the fact that many people who abstained from voting in recent elections, have also shown a vote of no-confidence in the DA. There is zero guarantee that their votes will convert to opposition support”.
Political analyst Dr Somadoda Fikeni said Cronje’s assertion that the ANC would lose a parliamentary majority was based on an assumption there was a linear path of growth of the opposition. “But, as the opposition parties expand, we will see similar internal tensions to those in the ANC.”