This year’s elections in South Africa may be slated to be the most competitive since the end of apartheid but are unlikely to bring a huge change to how the country is governed, the head of a polling and analysis company has said.
While the results will provide more evidence of the inexorable decline of the African National Congress (ANC), the party that has led South Africa since 1994 will probably be able to cobble together a coalition with minor rivals and retain power, said Frans Cronje, chairman of the Social Research Foundation.
“My call is the ANC will govern South Africa after the elections, but will need backing from some minor parties that win 2 per cent or 3 per cent of the vote,” he said in Johannesburg on Monday. “That doesn’t change what it will be like here.”
While such a result would be seismic for the ANC as it would lose its national majority for the first time and eclipse its previous worst parliamentary election performance of 57.5 per cent support in 2019, policies would largely be unaltered, he said. The vote must be held within the next seven months, although a date has yet to be announced.
Mr Cronje expects the temptation for the ANC to form a coalition with the populist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which split from its ranks a decade ago and is the third-largest party, to be tempered by the future damage that may do to its standing.
“Should it choose to go into coalition with the EFF, that will not be the end of the world. It’ll just be a massive shock to sentiment and accelerate the trend line ANC support has been on for 15 years,” Mr Cronje said. “It will be the midwife of a future centrist coalition government for South Africa.”
Support for the ANC peaked at 69.7 per cent in 2004.