Avatar photo

By Eric Naki

Political Editor

‘Winds of change’: EFF, IFP sound warning to ANC

Political analysts reckon the country is at 'a tipping point' with youth unemployment the main factor counting against the ANC.

Political experts believe the ANC is a victim of the winds of change that are sweeping through South Africa, as voters seek an alternative to the ruling party – and some opposition parties are taking advantage of this.

Now, said political analyst Prof André Duvenhage from North West-University Potchefstroom campus, the country is at a tipping point, and it was not a surprise that the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in North West and Free State, and the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) in KwaZulu-Natal are beginning to outperform the ANC.

Youth unemployment: EFF and IFP gaining ground on ANC

Another analyst Prof Ntsikelelo Breakfast, director at the Centre for Peace, Security and Conflict Resolution at Nelson Mandela University, said the EFF was gaining momentum among young voters because its policies speak to the problems of young people – such as the high unemployment.

The EFF took an ANC seat at Ward 3 in Maquassi Hills municipality in North West, the ruling party’s former stronghold, during by-elections last Wednesday.

The ANC was similarly annihilated by the IFP at uMhlathuze municipality in KwaZulu-Natal in by-elections. The EFF in April again beat the ANC in a ward by-election in the Free State.

ALSO READ: ANC gets smacked in KZN: Unemployment, corruption, and IFP resurgence

North West: Ruling party ‘in disarray’ after removal of Supra

Breakfast said he expected the EFF to do better in the 2024 general election in North West because the ANC was in disarray in the province.

Breakfast and Duvenhage said former ANC provincial strongman Supra Mahumapelo was still a factor affecting ANC support in the North West.

But according to Breakfast, youth unemployment was the main factor that militated against the ANC countrywide. He said the EFF’s advantage was its use of Marxism-Leninism as a tool of analysis, which made the party to embed itself in the working class.

“If you look at unemployment, you will find young people are really on the margin of the economy. But the ANC in North West has been in disarray. That removal of Supra had been causing a major shake-up. I don’t think the party there recovered from that,” he said.

ALSO READ: Are learnerships the answer to SA’s youth unemployment crisis?

EFF power struggle brewing between Malema and Shivambu

However, Breakfast said the EFF’s good fortunes in North West could be undermined by a brewing power struggle between its leader Julius Malema and his deputy Floyd Shivambu.

“I expect them to get more than what they got previously,” he said.

“However, the EFF does have some threats to its electoral performance in as much as it is doing well in terms now in by-elections. The possible contest between Malema and Shivambu threatens the party’s stability.

“I doubt very much if anyone among them will accept the loss. I think we must be on the look-out for that one.”

‘Winds of change’ blowing against ANC

Duvenhage referred to the “winds of change” that were blowing against the ANC in favour of the opposition parties around the country. The recent by-elections in KwaZulu-Natal and North West were clear examples.

The EFF celebrated its victory at Ward 3 in Maquassi Hills with a well-attended Siyabonga rally at the weekend. Previously, the party struggled to make any headways in any by-elections.

Duvenhage said in North West, where the EFF was the official opposition, “they are definitely gaining momentum against the backdrop of institutional and political decay”.

ANC on ‘brink of losing power’ in KwaZulu-Natal

The ANC is definitely in a crisis in KwaZulu-Natal and is on the brink of losing power.

“I think the IFP and other opposition parties stand a chance of winning the provincial elections,” Duvenhage said.

In the Free State, the ANC’s former secretary-general Ace Magashule was said to be commanding commanding at least 50% support and is a direct threat to the ruling party.

His new African Congress for Transformation could upset the ruling party in the province.