/ 2 June 2024

Mbalula: Zuma party, service delivery collapse and low turnout cost the ANC its majority

President Ramaphosa Address The 2019 Manifesto Review Wrap Up
ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula. (OJ Koloti/Gallo Images)

The ANC believes low voter turnout, the emergence of Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe party and public dissatisfaction over service delivery all contributed to the party losing its majority nationally.

ANC secretary general Fikile Mbalula on Sunday briefed the media for the first time on the party’s performance in the national and provincial poll, saying that it accepted the will of the voters.

The party lost control of Gauteng and was decimated in KwaZulu-Natal, where Zuma’s party took 45% of the vote, while it also fell below 50% in the Northern Cape, and lost 17 percentage points of its support nationally.

Mbalula said the ANC accepted its losses and thanked the six million people who voted for it and supported its efforts “to rid the ANC of corrupt elements as part of our renewal process”.

“While there are several factors that have contributed to the decline in support, the results send a clear message to the ANC,” he said. “We wish to assure the people of South Africa that we have heard them.”

Mbalula said the party had taken “a beating” and was “down but not out” and would have to adjust to its new role without a majority by partnering with others to provide leadership to the country.

The ANC would stick with its programme of “renewal and rebuilding of our movement” and would focus on service delivery in areas where it was in government in response to the message from the voting public.

The party’s top seven and its national working committee would be conducting a “deep analysis” of its performance along with the elections team and a report would be presented to the national executive committee, which meets on Tuesday, he added.

In response to questions, Mbalula said the party’s leadership — including himself and President Cyril Ramaphosa — would not resign over the poor showing as the ANC did not operate in that way.

He said while the party would analyse what went wrong and how to correct this, “we are not in the blame game” and that the outcome would not result in resignations — or the removal of any leader over the elections.

“We stood our ground and we fought very hard and we lost. Did we commit mistakes? Yes, we did, in government and everywhere else. We need to analyse those so that we don’t do them (again),” Mbalula said.

“We need to analyse the bleeding that has been brought on by JZ forming a party. If JZ didn’t form the MK party and had supported the ANC, we would not be here talking about so and so.”

Mbalula said Zuma had shown himself to be a “force to be reckoned with” as he had filled a “void” in KwaZulu-Natal and had taken on the role of a “father figure” to people in the province.

“That void that he has closed impacted negatively on the ANC. It has not favoured Inkatha. It has not favoured us. It has served him very well,” Mbalula said.

The ANC would have to look at a way to deal with this phenomenon, in conjunction with its provincial leadership.

He said there was no plan to remove the ANC leadership in KwaZulu-Natal over their poor performance, telling journalists: “We have not taken that decision.”

The party would investigate whether members had clandestinely campaigned for MK during the elections in due course and would also conclude its disciplinary action against Zuma.

Mbalula said the ANC had further been impacted by the “demon of low turnout” but that it was “humbled” by the fact that it remained the largest party in South Africa, despite the “significant decline”.

Turning to the threats issued by Zuma that there would be “trouble” if the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) went ahead with declaring a result on Sunday night, Mbalula called on South Africans to “resist” efforts to weaken democracy and “undermine our electoral processes”.

“As a nation, we will stand together against those who threaten violence and instability. The people of South Africa, as they have shown in the past, will not tolerate any threats to our democracy,” he said.

“The people of South Africa have made their wishes known in free and fair elections and we must all respect them.”