Jonny Steinberg: "ANC Still Dictates the Terms of the Conversation"





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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.

Jonny Steinberg focused much of his input on the rural electorate. He said that the electoral consequences of Marikana have been minimal for the ANC in rural South Africa. The ANC actually did very well in those rural regions where the slain miners of Marikana originated from, the Transkei. Part of the reason for their success is that the ANC has knitted itself into the every day lives of the people in that part of the world. Because it delivers welfare, it has come to be seen to deliver most forms of upward mobility.

According to Steinberg, the ANC has much of rural and small town South Africa sewn up for the foreseeable future. The ANC is sufficiently ingrained in their world, to keep having a voice in it for a very long time. It has been enormously successful in dictating the terms of the conversation, and in giving authority to its own interpretation of events.

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


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