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Steven Friedman: "No Electoral Game Changer In South Africa Without Another Split In the ANC"

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Published on May 29, 2014

Following the ANC's robust win at the polls in South Africa's 2014 General Elections, on 22 May 2014, SACSIS and the Friedrich Ebert Foundation hosted a panel discussion under the banner: "Will the ANC rule until Jesus returns?"

The primary impetus for this question is the fact that the ANC won the General Election this year, despite its leader being tarnished by major corruption scandals and the party's service delivery record being less than exemplary. Meanwhile South Africa's inequality too has worsened under the ANC's rule. So what is the ANC's secret? How does it manage to stay in power despite its poor track record?

The panellists at this the event were, Adam Habib, Vice-Chancellor and Principal of the University of the Witwatersrand; Jonny Steinberg, lecturer in African Studies at the University of Oxford; Nomboniso Gasa, researcher, analyst and public speaker on gender, politics, leadership and cultural issues; and Steven Friedman, Director of the Centre for the Study of Democracy at the University of Johannesburg.

Steven Friedman argued that one has to look at "the numbers" and argued that the ANC's decline at the polls could be equated to a slow puncture, rather than a full blowout.

We're not looking at an electoral game changer unless there were to be another split in the ANC, argued Friedman. That would make a real difference. So what is happening inside the ANC is very important at the moment because there are intense factional disputes.

The huge ANC majorities will only come down, if there is another split in the party. All of this tends to suggest that a worker's party of the kind that NUMSA is talking about has considerable potential, he said.

Visit the SACSIS You Tube channel to hear what the other panellists had to say.

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