An analysis of the declining support for the ANC during the 2011 South African local government elections
Local government elections are notorious for low voter turnout, but the May 2011 elections in South Africa showed a record 58 percent of the 24 million registered voters. In South Africa, local government matters and not just because it provides a pointer to what might happen in the provincial and national elections due in 2014, but helps in determining the readiness of the African Nation Congress in providing basic services to the different communities. Interestingly, these elections were preceded by service delivery protests against the ANC. The article is an analysis of the decreased support for the ANC during the 2011 local government elections. The multifaceted reasons behind the boiling cauldron of this decline in support for the ANC are scrutinised. Underpinning this decline in support often lie deep and complex factors which can be uncovered through a careful analysis of the ANC’s campaigning strategies ahead of these elections; the media which has been accused of rampant sensationalism; service delivery protests and mudslinging from other political parties. However, it is not the author’s intention in this article to deal with how other parties fared during these elections, but to highlight their impact on the declined support received by the ANC in the elections. The discussion is presented in four parts: the first presents an exploratory discussion on the theory of local government in the sphere of governance. The second part discusses some key strategies and tactics used by the ANC in attempts to galvanise support, as well as the challenges encountered. The third deals with the opposition parties’ machinery in preventing the ANC from getting a majority vote during the election. Lastly, the article concludes by highlighting the lessons learnt by the ANC during these elections within the framework of electoral politics in South Africa.