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18 March 2019 | Story Rulanzen Martin | Photo Rulanzen Martin
Rapport Regstreeks
From the left: Dr Ina Gouws, Dr Sethulego Matebesi, Dr Ebrahim Fakir, and Waldimar Pelser, who facilitated the panel discussion on the upcoming national elections.

Since the national elections of 2014 five years ago, several issues have occurred that could have an impact on the upcoming elections. A panel consisting of Dr Ina Gouws from the Department of Governance and Political Transformation, Dr Sethulego Matebesi from the Department of Sociology – both at the University of the Free State (UFS), and Dr Ebrahim Fakir from Governance Institutions and Processes at the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa, talked about these and other issues.

The panel discussion, facilitated by Waldimar Pelser, editor of Rapport, took place at the UFS on 8 March 2019. Rapport Regstreeks is presented by kykNET and Rapport.

Three factors that can handicap ruling party

“Does the ruling party have anything to be worried about?” Pelser asked, getting straight to the point. “Yes. The ruling party has a lot to be worried about. The reason for this is that voter participation has declined; secondly, there is definitely a management problem which resulted in a credibility crisis in the government; and lastly, the ANC is trying to keep people together who do not believe in the same issues,” Dr Fakir was the first to reply.

The issues mentioned by Dr Fakir have been a problem before. “Since 2016 there has been a lot of division within the ANC,” Dr Gouws said. “These divisions can have a huge impact on the outcome of the election. The divisions were exposed even more by the Nenegate situation, and the ANC could no longer manage it."

The fact that the ANC lost control over four of the major metros in the 2016 local elections must be worrying to them.

Zondo Commission and opposition parties

The Zondo Commission, with its appalling revelations has uncovered the magnitude of state capture and the shocking testimonies that have emerged, could possibly hamper the ANC in the elections. “Political parties have supporters, regardless of internal problems. Loyal party members will still vote for their parties,” said Dr Matebesi. “The promise of RDP houses before an election is the bread and butter of many voters; therefore, they will vote ANC again.”

With the rise of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the support base of the ANC has also dwindled. “If there is one party with a colonial mentality, it is the EFF. They are undermining democracy, thrive on divisions in society and exploit them,” said Dr Fakir. “They jump in on many issues for their own gain,” Dr Gouws added.

As for the Democratic Alliance (DA), Dr Gouws said its governance is ‘fantastic’ compared to the ANC, although not always 100%. “Problems were however highlighted – it is not 100% and I think they should attend to the problems.”

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