The South African Institute of Race Relations has made the claim that the African National Congress (ANC) could be out of power by 2019 or 2024, based on voting patterns, the party’s record in power and its analysis of how our society will change.
Whether this happens or not depends on several factors, not the least of which is how the ANC itself changes over the next few years. However, it is worth examining what could occupy that space, and thus threaten the ANC’s grip on power.
It appears that those threats could come from a transformed Democratic Alliance (DA), a new party seen as "legitimately black" in character, and religious leaders who could decide to plunge into politics.
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The ANC has always scoffed at claims it could be out of power in the near future. It points to voting figures showing that it received more than 80% of ballots cast in North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga.
However, it fails to mention that the poll turnout in those provinces hovers at the 50% mark. It has managed to grow strongly in KwaZulu-Natal, which has boosted its national average. But many voters in the province have voted for the party only once or twice — previously preferring the Inkatha Freedom Party. As a result those voters cannot be relied upon to vote for the ANC in the future.
This leaves the way open for a new party. Political analyst Nic Borain says the fact that more than 1-million people voted for the Congress of the People, when it was just a few months old in 2009, shows that there is a constituency "hungry to vote for anyone but the ANC, and not for the DA". The key here is that it has to be a "viable opposition".
How and why such a party is formed would be crucial. While it could possibly be another ANC off-shoot, a fresh new voice might seem viable to some. But this would also expose the new group to problems of inexperience and a lack of name recognition, unless a figure in society who is seen to have legitimacy, leads it. Which could explain why the ANC watches figures such as Mamphela Ramphele so closely.
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