Know Your SA Political Parties (part 5/5): the African National Congress

On 1 March, South Africa will hold local government elections, which will determine who will run our cities and towns for the next 5 years.

In SA Blog’s last post of this series, we turn our attention tremblingly to the only political party capable of inspiring true joy, fear, love and loathing among South Africans. Meet our 800lb political gorrila, the African National Congress.

Party: African National Congress (ANC)
Leader: Thabo Mbeki, President, the R of SA
Constituency: The African masses, mostly.
Status: Bayete! – in power.
Election strategy: Bait-n-switch
Prospects: The pinky finger of its grip on South African government structures might be loosened a few microns.

Extended Analysis
From the outside, the ANC looks like a powder keg which several party malcontents (led by a certain Jacob Zuma) are trying to light. But in truth, the strife and bloodletting are probably good for it. It’s South Africa’s most dynamic political organization, and remains the only party capable of delivering large-scale social and economic transformation.




The ANC has taken heat in the last few years for corruption in the cities and towns that it runs – corruption that has slowed the rollout of basic improvements in the lives of SA’s poor, bringing projects around housing, water, sanitation and electricity to a dead halt. In light of this, the party’s election campaign has been somewhat puzzling. As shown in the poster here, it seems to be pursuing the strategy of reverse-psychology bait-and-switch. The slogan baits those dissatisfied with local government – which the ANC, erm, controls, for the most part – and then encourages a switch to a party that will make things right – which, of course, is no switch at all. It’s a fake switch! Stalin would shed a tear.

The ANC’s campaign has also been marked by more traditional bluster, including red-herring announcements of charismatic new initiatives which may or may not actually get off the ground. SA Blog helpfully points some of these out: