/ 22 November 2012

Nkandlagate: The impact on Mangaung and beyond

Observers have predicted a further decline in ANC support in 2014.
Observers have predicted a further decline in ANC support in 2014.

While there has been wide-spread public outcry over Zuma's use of taxpayers money to upgrade hisNkandla homestead to the tune of R250 million, this was unlikely to have a negative impact on his re-election as party leader during the party's national conference in Mangaung next month. 

Recent surveys conducted among the youth in the country show that the majority preferred his deputy Kgalema Motlanthe to be the country's president.

In a survey conducted by Pondering Panda, of 4637South Africans aged between 18 and 34, some 23 percent reportedly said theywould like President Zuma to continue his presidency in 2014. Thirty-six percent of respondents chose Motlanthe, when given the choice between him and Zuma.

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"It is clear that the youth of South Africa have lost faith in President Zuma. If he were to continue his presidency, it is likely to alienate youngSouth Africans even more," said Pandering Pander market analyst Butch Rice. In 2009, the ANC under Zuma's leadership, experienced a 4% decline from 69,7% in 2004 to 65,9% in 2009. An ANC leader said the party might decline further during the 2014 national elections.

"The only crisis [we facing] is 2013 and 2014. The key question is how do you reposition the ANC to be a leader of society? Do we have capable people to do that? In 2009, we had a very aggressive election strategy. But with the current state of affairs, I don't think we can pull the numbers we pulled in 2009. People will ask us where are the jobs you promised us? We said education was one of the five priorities, but we failed to give the children of Limpopo books. There is no new strategy to build RDP houses. We are 20 years into democracy. You can't say to people, we are still a young democracy. Zuma was not learning anything when he was deputy president for 10 years. People warned us he was corrupt and that we cant put him as president. We did not believe them, but this is exactly what he did. The ANC will not loose the elections, but will decline in terms of votes. Remember we battled to get Nelson Mandela and Johannesburg Metros. The DA is position itself to win the metros and possibly another province. If they takes Gauteng, we are gone," said the ANC leader.

Another ANC provincial leader said: "If Zuma wins at the Mangaung conference it is going to be extremely difficult for the ANC to garner more votes during the 2014 general elections. The ANC was likely to perform badly in the general elections, especially in provinces such as Gauteng, Eastern Cape, Limpopo, Western Cape and the North West. These provinces are key for the ANC in any general election and JZ's re-election might affect voter turnout and demobilize people – , and who not necessarily ANC members but vote the ANC – disgruntled with his leadership to participate in the elections".

Opposition parties are hoping to capitalize on the upcoming review of the National Prosecuting Authority's decision to discontinue Zuma's fraud, corruption and racketeering case.  They are also hoping to dislodge Zuma during a motion of no confidence in Parliament next year. If the motion succeed, is likely to put the ANC in disarray just months ahead of the 2014 elections. Political analyst Zamikhaya Maseti said ANC members were unlikely to be dissuaded by Zuma's Nkandlagate scandal or Zumaville.

"ANC members going to Mangaung and supporting his re-election are not really bothered about Nkandlagate scandal. Nkandla and Zumaville are a non-issue to ordinary ANC member or delegates who will be voting in Mangaung. Remember that while he was facing fraud and corruption charges before and after Polokwane, there were those who said whether we like it or not Zuma will run this country – even wearing orange overalls in prison. The same pro-Zuma supporters are now punting businessman Cyril Ramaphosa as his deputy after Mangaung despite his association with Lonmin and the Marikana massacre.  There is no revolutionary morality at all," said Maseti.

Maseti argued that it was unlikely that many ANC supporters might stay away during the 2014 general elections or vote for some of the opposition parties, including the Democratic Alliance.

"The ANC depends on a captive audience during each and every election — the recipients of the RDP houses and other social benefits. According to the latest estimates close to 15 million South Africans rely on social grants to survive. For any oppositionparty to dislodge the ANC from power at the 2014 general elections they will have to penetrate this captive audience and convince it that they will get social grants and RDP whether they are ANC members or not," said Maseti. Most ANC members, said Maseti, did not comprehend the effects of the country's downgrading by Standard & Poor and Moody's. He said a new wave of illegal strikes in the mines and farms might further lead to the country's downgrading into a 'junk' status. "They do not understand that downgrading means that our companies, banks and state-owned enterprises won't be able to borrow money at reasonable prices in the financial markets," said Maseti.