Opposition couldn't win in 2021, so they certainly won't now: Mbalula

'They're dreaming if they think they can oust the ANC from government'

24 April 2024 - 20:42
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ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula. File photo.
ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula. File photo.
Image: Lubabalo Lesolle/Gallo Images

ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula has argued that the opposition failed to dislodge his party from power in the 2021 local government elections — when it was at its weakest — so there is no basis for believing it can do so now.

Mbalula says opposition parties are pursuing a pipe dream for thinking they can oust the ANC from national government and eight provinces as the ANC has regrouped since the last election.

In 2021, Mbalula argues, the opposition had the biggest opportunity to completely remove the ANC because it was caught by surprise by the announcement of the election date by the Constitutional Court, giving it only a month to campaign.

The country was also still reeling from the hard Covid-19 lockdown which led to loss of jobs and limitations on some freedoms. Eskom had also dealt the ANC messaging a huge blow, hitting the country with stage six load-shedding just a week before the polls.

The ANC itself was in the middle of internal squabbles which were heightened by the suspension of its then secretary-general Ace Magashule, who was charged with corruption.

But the party was also contending with objections to the list of candidates that were being sent to the IEC as some people were chopping and changing names. 

According to Mbalula, having failed to do a “heist” of the elections then means the opposition missed its biggest opportunity three years ago. He is adamant the ANC will win the May national and provincial elections with a comfortable majority.

“ ... even if they say Zuma has hurt us we will not go below 50%, it’s not going to happen,” said Mbalula.

“If it does happen it must be because we have not done our job. I can assure you, comrades, we will jump that 50%. And you must be ready because in 30 days, [Cyril] Ramaphosa together with the alliance will again constitute government.”

Mbalula was addressing the national policy conference of labour union Satawu.

Mbalula, who until the ANC 2022 national conference was the head of elections, has consistently said that Ramaphosa was the party’s saving grace in the past elections. He has previously argued that the ANC would have done much worse in 2019 had Ramaphosa not been president of the party.

The ANC dipped below 50% for the first time in the 2021 local government election, results that produced hung municipalities across the country. It was considered a big loss for the ANC at the time, but Mbalula now seems to suggest it was not really a loss as the opposition did not win outright.

He says it was those results in 2021, and recent polls, that has amped up the opposition’s fervour about the prospects of the ANC losing at national level.

“Now that election was conducted under the conditions of Covid-19 and then the Constitutional Court went back and forth on the date. We didn’t have a choice; we had a month to campaign.” 

“But we persevered, we contested, and we won, not outright majority, we got 46%. The opposition came not even close to winning, they stayed where they were even when we were at our weakest.

“Now elections are going to depend on a number of things. We know in that election that our base, our people, did not come out in numbers. Others because their spirits were dampened because of service delivery, over and above that there were objective factors that we could not overcome like the date of the election and the time to campaign to reverse all the negatives.

“We will still win but not with a bigger margin of the majority,” Mbalula said.

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