WERE the African National Congress’s (ANC’s) support to plunge below 60% in 2016’s local government elections, this would mark a “psychological and political turning point” for the party, general secretary Gwede Mantashe said on Friday.
Mr Mantashe, who was delivering an organisation report to delegates at the party’s national general council in Midrand, predicted that ANC voter turnout would continue to slide, as was the case in 2014. He warned against complacency and selecting the wrong candidates to represent the party.
Mr Mantashe said urban voter turnout had grown over the last decade, compared with rural voter turnout. This implied that rural votes “weighed less” in the national total than they used to.
“This should be a matter of real concern to the ANC since the rural masses constitute our solid base, which has continued to hold. Also, the implications are that the movement is not keeping abreast with urbanisation and the urban voters,” he said in the report.
Another worrying factor was that voter turnout in ANC strongholds was below that of the opposition in all provinces, except in KwaZulu-Natal.
“Indications are that 40% of our vote comes from the four provinces with a low voter turnout.”
The report also noted that the growth of the Democratic Alliance (DA) came from smaller parties in the main, but there were indications that the DA was penetrating the ANC’s base. “The growing number in our base that is migrating to the DA should be of great concern to us.”
In addition to this, the Congress of the People, an ANC breakaway, had exposed voters to other political parties other than the ANC, “which increased their appetite to (vote for the opposition) in future”.
The report acknowledges that the ANC’s electoral support has been declining since the 2004 election. Its support has also declined in the four metros it has governed since the 2014 elections.
Mr Mantashe urged members to consider that, if the 2014 polls were local elections, the party would have lost Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane, Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni.