Only the ANC can save South Africa

* The Miss Parel Vallei contest was held on Friday April 22, and out of the 12 finalists, Chelsea Potgieter was crowned Miss PV, and the runners-up were Natasja Ludik, first princess, and Brigitta Day, second princess. Miss Personality, Claudia Selb, was chosen by the finalists themselves and it was Chelsea who once again stole the judges’ hearts as Miss Photogenic.

How often have you heard that sentiment expressed in the past?

With the local government election eminent – the date is set for Wednesday August 3, but has yet to be promulgated – you can expect to hear it a great deal.

As hard as it it may be to believe, it is true: only the ANC can save South Africa, and here’s why.

In the past 21 years, we’ve had a few contenders who thought they could offer a credible alternative to the ANC, and they have all failed miserably, save one.

First we had COPE, formed by a “coalition of the wounded” 140 days before the 2009 election. In the ensuing euphoria, we all believed that the ANC’s days were numbered. We were all wrong.

COPE polled a paltry 7.42 percent of the national vote, which gave it 16 seats in the National Assembly, and proceeded to eviscerate itself with its unseemly leadership squabbles that eventually ended up in court. COPE is today an also-ran (0.67 percent of the vote in 2014, three seats in the National Assembly), that matters not one jot in our politics.

Next we had AgangSA, the incarnation of a new political future by the respected academic and public intellectual, Mamphela Ramphele. Once more, this new hope was hailed as being the nemesis of the ANC in the 2014 election.

The appallingly handled on-off-on-off merger/cum accord with the DA, resulted in the movement polling only 0.28 percent of the national vote, giving it two seats in the National Assembly. When last did you hear anything from, or about AgangSA?

Just 130 days before the 2014 election, Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) hit the ground running, and although it didn’t quite poll what COPE did in 2009, its 6.35 percent of the national vote gave it 25 seats in the National Assembly, significantly more than COPE in 2009, making it the third largest party in the House.

Why the difference? It all has to do with message and target market, and despite the usual warning by ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe that “it is very cold and lonely outside the ANC”, the EFF sang its siren song of Brietling socialism to one of the most important demographics in our electorate – the disaffected, marginalised, angry youth.

Despite superhuman efforts by the ANC since then to woo the youth vote (if that is, you consider an ANC Youth League run by the likes of Collin Maine to be a superhuman effort), support for the EFF grows by the day.

It has successfully hijacked the initially apolitical #FeesMustFall campaign, and the EFF Student Command (EFFSC) is dominating one university campus after another.

That #FeesMustFall poster child Nompendulo Mkhatshwa refused to answer a question during a recent television interview about the inroads made by the EFFSC into the #FeesMustFall support base, is a clear indication of how successful has been the EFFSCs putsch.

More than one analyst has suggested that the EFF could poll as much as 30 percent of the vote in the upcoming election – a good indication of what is likely to happen in 2019. And the ANC is like a rabbit caught in the headlights of an on-rushing car.

The very notion that the DA will ever be a majority government in South Africa is beyond ridiculous.

It is incapable of shedding the conservative baggage it inherited from the New National Party, and despite fabulous work done by its progenitors (the PFP, Independent Party and National Democratic Movement), it is incapable of disabusing voters of the notion that it panders to white interests. Which means it will likely never break the electoral black glass ceiling.

Chances are, the DA will reach its zenith of support in the local government election on August 3.

The ANC must make some hard choices in the next few months, if it plans to still be the government of the day in 10 years.

The current state of our polity is a direct result of the damage wrought by the ANC’s slavish support of every excess perpetrated by Jacob Zuma in the last eight years.

That ANC supporters in increasing numbers are disillusioned with the party is obvious: the stadium in Port Elizabeth during the ANC’s election manifesto launch was about one third full, and increasing rumblings of dissent are emerging from many entities in the party.

The disillusioned ANC supporter will do one of two things, depending more or less on generation.

The angry youth who hold the ANC accountable for giving away too much during Codesa, and a manifest incapacity to uplift the masses, will cleave to the bright red standard of the EFF.

The disaffected older generation, those who lived through the struggle years, and were the vanguard of ANC support from 1994 to 2014, will not vote for the EFF instead of the ANC, nor will they vote for the DA, no matter what the DA says or does. Instead, they simply will not vote.

A low voter turn-out (which includes those who choose to not vote), typically favours the opposition, and since the DA will largely peak in terms of voter support in August, the EFF stands to gain the most, while the ANC will lose the most, which will make for an interesting political landscape going forward.

The ANC must get its house in order pretty damn quickly – shed Jacob Zuma, dismantle his patronage network, claw back the state, and begin delivering that better life for all. In effect, it must justify the struggle dividend it has traditionally relied on for majority support.

Otherwise Julius Malema will be our president in ten years’ time.