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By: Kelvin Chiringa

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has admitted that it has disappointed many South Africans who severely punished the party in the just concluded local authority elections.

The party’s support has fallen below 50%, although it emerged stronger than its erstwhile rival outfits in the make of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).

In a statement, party spokesperson Pule Mabe said the 2021 local government elections “have been amongst the most difficult elections we have contested”.

“The turnout, in particular, has been disappointing, in part a result of the objective conditions of Covid 19, weather, election on a Monday and logistical issues, as well as the spectre of load shedding in the week preceding elections,” he said.

The ANC walked into the polls burdened by the weight of corruption allegations that have claimed the scalps of senior party stalwarts.

It also campaigned in the face of evidence of failure typified by rolling power black-outs, the misery of poverty and run-away unemployment.

Many South Africans did not go to the polls, beaten by the vagaries of the pandemic and unhappy with the economic woes bedevilling the country, which saw thousands looting malls recently.

“The low voter turnout, especially in traditional ANC strongholds, communicates a clear message: The people are disappointed in the ANC with the slow progress in fixing local government, in ensuring quality and consistent basic services, in tackling corruption and greed. People are happy with the renewal of the ANC and, therefore, our nation’s mission in building a better life for all. The ANC has heard this message loud and clear,” Mabe said.

He said these results and the turnout is a message for the movement to shape up.

“Looking at the overall picture that is emerging from results completed, the ANC maintains its national footprint across the country. We remain the leading party nationally and in the majority of districts and municipalities.

“The preliminary results indicate that we will have more hung councils than in the previous local election. This will necessitate the need for coalitions or other forms of cooperation with other political formations. This is nothing new. We have done so since 1994,” he said.

He said the ANC’s approach to coalitions remains based on principle, not expediency, and guided by the voters’ spirit, mandate, and interests.

He added that the party remains committed to building unity and fostering cooperation with formations committed to advancing genuinely non-racial, non-sexist and united developmental local government.

“Regrettably, recent experience with a number of coalitions has not been positive. Most of these coalitions, which were led by the opposition, have been untidy, messy and premised on gaining power as an end in itself. This has resulted in unstable and self-serving “marriages of inconvenience.”

“To avoid this political and administrative instability, the ANC will consider an approach with like-minded parties, including affirming the principle accepted in many countries, that the party that receives the most votes in a given election, should be afforded the first opportunity to form a coalition government, thus mitigating against an unseemly scramble for power.

“This approach is in the interests of effective governance and is consistent with the principles of democracy and proportionality manifest in our Constitution. An extended ANC NWC will, by the end of this week, finalise its approach to coalitions and cooperation,” he said.

Kelvin Chiringa

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