ANC Cyril Ramaphosa Tshwane The DA

Photo: ANC / Twitter

Ramaphosa polls ahead of the ANC in popularity – analyst

Will the ANC reform backed by President Cyril Ramaphosa’s supporters, or could there be a party split ahead of the next national election?

ANC Cyril Ramaphosa Tshwane The DA

Photo: ANC / Twitter

Now that the local government elections are over and the winners and losers have emerged, the big question that remains is how will the ruling ANC respond to its electoral losses, and what will it mean for the next general election in 2024?

The latest Bureau for Economic Research (BER) weekly newsletter released on Monday noted that while the ANC had lost an average of 7% of the vote across eight metropolitical regions, the higher voter turnout in general elections tended to favour the ANC. 

However, BER added that it was worth bearing in mind that even if the ANC stages a similar (3.6 percentage point) recovery as it did between the 2016 local poll and the 2019 general election, it would still fall just shy of an outright national majority in 2024.

“There seems to be two main camps on the ANC’s likely response. The one is that the reformers in the party will double down behind President Cyril Ramaphosa’s agenda as a renewal of the party is the only way to regain the trust of voters and prevent an equally poor electoral performance on 2024. Ramaphosa is also polling ahead of the party in popularity,” the BER said.

Will the ANC reform or split ahead of the 2014 national elections?

“This line of thinking suggests that the ANC can simply not afford to get rid of the president and that he would be a shoo-in to be re-elected for a second term as ANC President at the party’s elective conference in December 2022. However, some have argued that real renewal will only be possible if the ANC splits,” BER said. University of the Witwatersrand Professor, William Gumede, has previously commented that it is a challenge to fully reform while a party is in power, as the potential for patronage and corruption remains too high, while political parties hold the strings of power. 

“Taken to its logical conclusion, if the party does split, SA could eventually end with a grand coalition between the reformist part of the ANC and the centrist part of the DA. Currently, this outcome does seem like a million miles away,” BER said.

“An alternative view is that the stark ANC electoral losses will embolden Ramaphosa’s foes in the ANC and that they could call for a vote of no confidence in the president at either the 2022 ANC policy conference or the elective conference,” the BER said.

Either way, it seems that ANC infighting is likely to continue, the BER noted, which detracts from good governance, reform and policy implementation. This is against a backdrop where structural economic reforms are crucial to improve SA’s medium-term real GDP growth performance. 

“While it is early days and a lot can happen before the ANC’s elective conference at the end of 2022 and the 2024 election, the bottom line is that our long-held baseline assumption remains intact: In the foreseeable future, the general political climate in SA will not be conducive to business and consumer confidence, fixed investment and GDP growth,” the BER noted.