Home Opinion My preliminary observations on the elections – Pat Makape

My preliminary observations on the elections – Pat Makape

by centra

By Pat Makape – Our country South Africa went to local elections and the outcomes are obviously bad for the ANC. As things stand the ANC will definitely dip to less than 50% of the National vote.

Many have expressed opinions on what caused this dramatic drop. Service delivery, corruption, low voter turnout etc.

My own preliminary assessment is that election outcomes for parties that are in charge of the state are intimately linked to the state of the economy. People (rich or poor) are concerned mainly about their own material situation whenever they make decisions (especially electoral decisions).

For example, the highest electoral score the ANC got was almost 70% in 2004 and this came on the back of an economy that had been growing at 5% for about 8 years. ANC electoral fortunes were on a steady rise from 1994 until a peak in 2004.

In 2008 we had global economic crisis that affected us and our economy shrunk for the first time since 1994. The following year in 2009 we dropped from 70% to 62% in national elections. Five years later in 2014 the ANC continued to drop but at a slower rate.


In 2019 the drop was arrested and there was some relief that the ANC was once again on the correct path. Unfortunately we did not address the economic question and Covid compounded it.

The once in a 100 year pandemic left businesses in ruins and reduced many workers to recipients of government grants. So severe was the impact of Covid that unemployment is at its highest ever.

Of course the ANC spend a lot of time on trying to fix itself and the key concept became renewal. This renewal tended to be a moralistic effort about cleansing ANC of wrongdoers.

What I believe the ANC missed in its conceptualization of renewal is that renewal of ANC is impossible without fundamental transformation of the economy. The reality is that people join the ANC because for all practical purposes it is the quickest way out of poverty. Even ANC leaders know that. A moralistic renewal of ANC (important as it is) is doomed to fail if the wealth of the country is not transferred to the ownership of the people as a whole.

So in relation to the outcomes of the elections it is crystal clear that you can’t expect a father who has been retrenched in the last 18 months to convince his family to vote for the ANC. Similarly you can’t expect a mother who has lost her small business in the last 18 months to be excited about voting ANC. That’s madness!

When people are in economic difficulties they naturally turn their frustrations against the governing parties. It is not unique to South Africa. Throughout the world many presidents were removed because of the economic consequences of Covid. Like the rest of the world during economic strife many people identify with those who look like them, speak like them etc. Hitler thrived on that during painful economic times in Germany. Recently we saw how USA assumed ethnic chauvinistic features leading to removal of Trump. In South Africa balkanisation is what is sustaining many parties. DA mainly white liberals, VF mainly afrikaner conservatives, PA mainly Coloureds, IFP mainly Zulus, ActionSA mainly anti-migrants…

Lastly I do think the ANC will have to be decisive on the economy. This 50% we currently have we must use it wisely. We must never forget that our people do not eat moralistic concepts like renewal. Yes they love morals but if morals are not buttressed by economic redress they become hollow and meaningless. We have nothing to lose but our chains…we can’t be bending backwards to please our political opponents!

Written by: Pat Makape

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