What happens if the ANC loses in 2019?

Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane

According to a recent IPSOS poll, conducted over the period April 21 to May 22, on a population sample of 3 500 people, in their own homes and in their language of choice, the ANC stands to get less than 50% of the vote in the 2019 elections.

There is much more in the poll, but that projection is the one about which we ought to be most concerned.

Contrary to popular belief, it is not axiomatic that the DA will be in a position to form a coalition government and rule as it has done in Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay metros.

Depending upon how things play out in the next two years, it may well come to pass that the EFF is in a position to play kingmaker, in which case it may well choose to climb into bed with the ANC. The enmity between the two parties is a proxy for the intense mutual dislike between President Jacob Zuma and EFF commander-in-chief,Julius Sello Malema.

Ideologically they have far more in common, than do the EFF and the DA, and if Mr Zuma is kicked into touch after the mid-December ANC elective conference, Mr Malema is likely to start making overtures to the ANC, about burying the hatchet and focussing on a common enemy – the neoliberal forces epitomised by the DA.

The only reason Julius Melama is out of the ANC, is because Mr Zuma had him ejected, because he saw Mr Malema as a threat to his continued domination of the ANC in the long term.

Mr Malema is on record that his spiritual home is the ANC, so he will leap at any opportunity to go back home. As kingmaker, he will demand a position of significance – probably deputy president for himself – in return for which the EFF will help the ANC in its attempt to overturn clause 25 of the constitution, and expropriate land without compensation, and if he gets his way, widespread nationalisation of the private sector economy.

Whether or not the combined pull of the EFF and the ANC will constitute the magical 66.7%+ of the vote, remains to be seen.

But even if the DA does get to form a coalition government, with or without the EFF, it will be drinking from a poisoned chalice. We have to confront the reality that, whereas the ANC has tottered along as government of the day for 23 years, the DA waiting in the wings is hardly going to step in, wave a magic wand and suddenly make all things right.

In the same manner that an incoming American president spends much of their first term transforming the administration put in place by their predecessor, a DA-led coalition will face the daunting prospect of transforming an administration that is largely populated by ANC deployees, put in place over the last 23 years, at every level of government, and in all state owned enterprises.

The on-going revelations in the #GutpaLeaks emails are shedding light on just how many people in the public sector are compromised, and since the emails are said to number over 100 000, there is much more to come.

It is also worth contemplating whether or not the DA is ready to govern nationally. Aside from running Cape Town since 2006, the Western Cape since 2011, and Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay since August last year, the DA has largely conducted itself as an antagonistic opposition, rather than as a government in waiting.

Although it did some time ago adopt the notion of appointing shadow ministers for the respective portfolios in government, how many of them do you hear or see speaking on major issues?

In the National Assembly we see Mmusi Maimane, John Steenhuisen and David Maynier, and they all do make an impact of significance whenever they speak, but who else does the DA have, ready to step into a ministerial portfolio, undertake the much needed house-cleaning and begin to deliver the services so desperately needed by so many of our citizens?

The sheer magnitude of the task – suggested by what is happening in Johannesburg and Tshwane – is staggering, and the rising tide of dissatisfaction around the country will continue unabated.

The anger of the poor and marginalised, the vast majority of our fellow South Africans, will continue to be directed at the government of the day, wether it be DA-led or ANC-led.

In this very DA governed province and the Cape Town metro, the N2 motorway between somerset West and the city is frequently closed due to protest action, and it will only get worse.

Were Mmusi Maimane to become president of the country in 2019, he would need the sympathy and unqualified support of every single South African, because his task will not be an easy one.

There is no silver bullet, there is no magic wand. Such is the bleak reality of our politics.

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