By Friday evening, the ANC had won 54% of the national vote in this week’s local election, to the DA’s 24%.
Commander in Chief of the Economic Freedom Fighters Julius Malema said the ANC had been humbled in these elections. “The EFF has ensured that the ANC got less than 60%,” he said.
Zizi Kodwa, national spokesperson of the ANC however insists that despite dropping nearly 10% since the general election in 2014, the ANC is still the most popular political party in the country.
“The ANC in this election is a winner,” he said. “If you look at the map, the ANC remains a very dominant and the majority party, which is leading a number of councils.
Kodwa however refused to be drawn on pronouncing on the ANC’s performance in this election.
“It may yet be early days to say which areas we can say we have not performed well. But we’re quite satisfied with the response of our people,” he said.
“I think that naturally we may have to go back as a party, in totality, to reflect in a number of areas where we did not perform as we should have,” he said.
Sithembile Mbete, an analyst from the University of Pretoria’s political sciences department, said the ANC in effect lost against itself.
“Even though the ANC has maintained many of the wards it used to have, its support overall has declined significantly in its core support base areas and this should be a big concern to the party because if they don’t do something dramatic to stem the tide, then this tide could be expected to continue,” she said.
Kodwa said the party had flagged low turnout in its strongholds as a possible explanation for its poor performance.
“For example, the low turnout is an issue that we must look at because it doesn’t start with this election, it’s been coming with the recent by-election,” he said. “ We’ve seen a number of areas where, even where we win, we’re winning by a slim margin.”
He said that bad weather could explain the turnout, but it could also signal unhappiness “regarding some things in the ANC – the candidates, or so on”.
Kodwa admitted however that the party would be forced to reflect on its performance.
“We have to go back as a party, look back and look at the factors,” he said. “The reason we must do so is because, if necessary, we must self-correct – we must own up to our own mistakes.”