The ANC will be sitting in the opposition benches after 2014, according to both the DA and the UDM. And the DA is certain it will be running the Western Cape next year. Speaking at the well attended Centre for Conflict Resolution’s public dialogue seminar ‘The Future of Opposition Politics in South Africa’ in Cape Town on Wednesday, Democratic Alliance Parliamentary leader Sandra Botha said next year’s elections would see the DA winning the Western Cape and the Northern Cape and Gauteng would be closely contested, putting “provinces within reach of the opposition”.
This could be either through outright wins or through the formation of coalition governments, opening the way for “real power” in the National Council of Provinces, said Botha.
“This is how we plan to build a new majority brick by brick, by replicating our successes in enough places that by 2014 we will be able to spread our achievements across South Africa as the governing party.”
The formation of the Congress of the People (Cope) had broken the ANC’s stranglehold on majority and ensured that South Africa’s opposition could no longer be denied legitimacy according to race, position or class.
“Voters will be free to vote on choice, not on history,” she said. “The dead hand of the past is no longer an excuse for delivery failures.”
United Democratic Movement president Bantu Holomisa said next year’s elections would bring about “a radically revised electoral map” and in 2014 “the ruling party will stand a very certain chance of being reduced to the opposition benches”.
Adding weight to Botha’s predictions, Holomisa said the ANC will remain in power in national government next year, although they may lose some provinces, “but one more term will simply serve to expose their weaknesses and to harden the resolve of a generation who have grown up with a surplus of ANC election promises and a severe shortage of delivery on those promises”.
He also hinted that his party could align with the Cope in order to realistically contest the 2014 elections “with a view to becoming the next government”.
But he warned that the Cope would have to prove itself first.
He said the Cope would have to develop policies distinct from the ANC, prove themselves at the polls and, most of all, demonstrate that they were not a “Trojan horse” that captured disgruntled ANC voters only to enter into a “cosy relationship” with the ANC after the 2009 elections.
Although the ANC in the Western Cape had haemorrhaged 27 councilors by Wednesday’s cut-off date for the contestation of the December 10 by-elections – the highest of number of all the nine provinces – and had never won an outright majority in the province, ANC deputy provincial secretary Max Ozinsky said the ANC had a very strong base in the province and would still be in power after the 2009 elections.
Ozinsky said the DA was “dreaming” if they thought they would be take over national government in 2014.
Ozinsky said in 2004 the ANC increased their support in the province from 42 percent to 46 percent and were aiming for 51 percent next year. “The few people leaving the ANC does not mean the ANC will not win or is weakening.”
Although 86 of the 205 branches in the province boycotted the provincial conference in September this year, Ozinsky said ANC supporters in the province remained committed to the party.
Prominent ANC-aligned officials in the province who have resigned over the last two weeks include Saldanha Bay Mayor Onel de Beer, Boland regional executive committee member Isaac Thobile, City of Cape Town councillor and Dullar Omar executive committee member Brian Heber, secretary of the Boland region Mogamat Majiedt, Dullah Omar regional executive member Olifant Sithonga, deputy chair of the Dullah Omar region Ebrahim Sawant, provincial executive committee member Nhonho Ntlakatya.
Provincial community safety MEC Leonard Ramatlakana resigned from the ANC on 22 October and has since joined the Cope.
Reports in the regional press this week noted that Cope had signed up 5,930 members in the Boland region, 3,760 members from the Dullah Omar branch, 2,356 members in the Overberg and 1,900 members in the West Coast.
* Reporting by Steve Kretzmann and Sandiso Phaliso.