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Decline in quality of ANC membership is behind electoral collapse, says Mbeki

11 December 2021 - 12:47
Thabo Mbeki campaigns for the ANC by speaking to business representatives at Durban International Convention Centre ahead of the local government elections on November 1 2021.
Thabo Mbeki campaigns for the ANC by speaking to business representatives at Durban International Convention Centre ahead of the local government elections on November 1 2021.
Image: Sandile Ndlovu

Former president Thabo Mbeki has attributed the ANC's sustained electoral losses to what he called a degradation in the quality of the membership of the ANC.

Delivering the Chief Albert Luthuli memorial lecture on Friday night, Mbeki tracked the ANC's electoral losses from 2014, when the party was at its peak under his presidency, to last month's local government elections.

“With regard to the National Assembly elections, the ANC got 69.69% of the votes in 2004; in 2009, 65.9%; in 2014, 62.15%; and in 2019, 57.5%. This means that the ANC lost 12.19% of national electoral support during the four national elections during the period 2004 to 2019 inclusive,” said Mbeki. “Thus, on average, it lost 3% support on each election.

“Concerning the local government elections, the ANC took 66.3% of the vote in 2006, 62% in 2011, 55.65% in 2016 and 47.52% in 2021. This means that the ANC lost 18.8% of local electoral support during the four local government elections during the period 2006 to 2021 inclusive. This means that on average it lost 4.7% support in each election.”

On November 1, the ANC won only two metros outright: Buffalo City in the Eastern Cape and Mangaung in the Free State. It runs Nelson Mandela Bay and eThekwini via coalition governments. 

In Gauteng, the party failed to win any municipality with an outright majority, making the result its worst performance in the province. 

Mbeki said: “The continuous degradation in the quality of the membership of the ANC, emphasised at all ANC conferences for the two decades between 1997 and 2017, contributed directly to this sustained loss of electoral support by the ANC.

“We must add to this the important matter of what has happened to the standard of living and quality of life of the people, especially the working masses, especially given that the ANC has campaigned on the promise of ‘a better life for all’ in all the elections since 1994.”

He said for many years, with the ANC as the governing party, the country has seen a stubbornly high and increasing level of unemployment that mainly affects the working people who should benefit most from democratic rule.

High unemployment figures speak of a stagnating economy incapable of creating jobs, he said, urging the ANC to urgently do everything possible to effect its renewal.

He called on the party to act without delay to ensure there is a sustained effort to achieve high economic growth rates and sustained development of the economy “and to contribute everything we can to the renaissance of Africa”.

He added: “Naturally, the matter of the renewal of the ANC is fully the responsibility of this organisation of Chief Luthuli, which must implement what is after all a directive issuing from its 54th national conference. Because it is the governing party, the ANC owes the whole country this renewal.

“Without this renewal, it will be impossible to effectively deal with the scourge of corruption. Without this renewal, it would not be possible to build the capable state which is vital not only for service delivery but also to achieve the required economic growth rates as well as significantly improve the safety and security of the population at large.”

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