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ANC insider predicts party support won’t fall below 50%, raises coalition concerns


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ANC insider predicts party support won’t fall below 50%, raises coalition concerns

Political analyst and ANC insider Oscar van Heerden
Political analyst and ANC insider Oscar van Heerden

12th April 2024

By: Thabi Shomolekae
Creamer Media Senior Writer


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Political analyst and African National Congress (ANC) insider Oscar van Heerden is predicting that the ANC's electoral support will not fall below 50% in the upcoming May elections, while hoping for an outright majority win for any political party, rather than the eventuality of a coalition government.

Van Heerden was speaking exclusively with Polity to discuss his latest book Is the Party Over?, when he hedged that if there was significant voter apathy then perhaps the ANC could dip below 50%, but even then he imagined support would not fall below 47% or 48%.


Support for the ANC is plunging, and the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) Party backed by former President Jacob Zuma may become the country’s third-biggest after next month’s election, a new opinion poll showed.

However, Van Heerden dismissed election polling as problematic, explaining that it reflected how a small sample of people felt on the day. He referred to some of the polls as “ridiculous”.


He admitted that the ANC, at the moment, was "not the favourite party", noting that “everyone hates the ANC” and that people “talk bad about the party”.

However, he highlighted that looking at the trends of the last few elections, the ANC’s support had been waning but consistently, with a drop of about 3% to 4% per election in electoral support.

“When you stand at 67.5%, to suggest that the ANC is going to lose more than 10% of their support base, the ANC would have to have really done badly,” he noted.

Van Heerden said “the truth of the matter is” that 30 years into democracy most black South Africans, are “far better off” than they were pre-1994. He said people now had rights, including a right to vote.

Although there were still challenges with poverty, unemployment and inequality, he said this was something that could not change overnight.


Van Heerden expressed concerns with coalition politics, saying it seemed as though the country was not getting it right.

He said should the ANC fall below 47% or 48% of support, then it would have to form a coalition with smaller parties, which he said was likely to be the Inkatha Freedom Party "because the politics of KZN must be satisfied”.

He acknowledged that the newly formed MK Party led by Zuma would also play a role.

He predicted a small coalition, where the ANC was still the dominant ruling party nationally. However, he foresaw problems in KZN and Gauteng.

“I will rather want any particular grouping to outright win, I am not saying it must be the ANC but I think that will be a more stable factor than having coalitions at national level,” he said.

He also highlighted that the electorate wanted stability and familiarity, predicting that if the ANC won the elections, he did not think President Cyril Ramaphosa would retain Paul Mashatile as Deputy President.

He said Ramaphosa might bring in someone new.

“…someone no one thought it could be. And he is basically sending a message that this is the future of the party once I leave,” Van Heerden said.


Meanwhile, he believes that citizens are “not getting it right” in terms of building a cohesive society, noting that people are not voting for the party whose policies they believe in, but rather for the race or religion the parties represent.

He highlighted that people still voted according to identity politics, explaining that Gayton Mackenzie’s Patriotic Alliance was getting more attention from the coloured community, because “he plays the nationalist coloured card”.

Van Heerden pointed out that Afrikaans speakers were voting for the Freedom Front Plus, while English speaking people were predominately voting for the Democratic Alliance (DA). He said Muslims were voting for the Al Jama-ah party and Christians were voting for Kenneth Meshoe’s African Christian Democratic Party.

He noted that race was still very much present in the country and pointed out that while the DA argued that there were problems with affirmative action and black economic empowerment, he believed the ANC was still pushing these issues because it wanted to redress past injustices.

He said the ANC, over the decades, had actively tried to inculcate a sense of non-racialism.

However, he admitted that the ANC also had to grapple with the race question, by asking “where are the Indians, coloured and whites” within their own ranks?

“…are they on the margins, are they in the executives. But if there is one party amongst all them that is consistently trying to create such a [multi-racial] society, it is the ANC,” Van Heerden said.


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