While South Africa’s ruling African National Congress is likely to get a short-term boost if former president Nelson Mandela dies before next year’s general election, the event may accelerate the decline of the party, K2 Intelligence said.
Africa’s oldest political party will seek to defend the 65.9 percent share of the vote it won in 2009. The ANC has had close to two-thirds of the vote since the first all-race elections in 1994, which saw Mandela become the nation’s first black president.
“The significance of Mandela’s passing lies in the fact that it could subtly influence the African National Congress’s transition,” according to analysts headed by Jules B. Kroll at the London-based research company. The ANC may move from “an indestructible hegemonic political force into a political party that stands a reasonable chance of being defeated in the 2024 general election.”
Mandela, 94, has been in the hospital in Pretoria, the capital, for over a month as he receives treatment for a recurring lung infection. It’s his fourth time in hospital since December. The Nobel Peace Prize winner “is responding to treatment” his wife Graca Machel said on July 12. Mandela’s condition is stable yet critical, according to President Jacob Zuma.
In next year’s election, however, the ANC may benefit, the analysts said.
“Far from releasing violent, disgruntled, racially inspired undercurrents, his death will probably act as a healing, conciliatory event for the country,” London-based K2 Intelligence, said in an e-mailed note to clients sent to Bloomberg News late last week. “It’s probable that Mandela’s passing will in fact provide a small boost for the ANC in the run up to the election in April 2014.”
The main opposition Democratic Alliance is likely to increase its share of the vote next year to at least 23 percent from 16.7 percent, according to K2.
The DA “is making surprisingly strong inroads considering its origins as a predominantly white party,” the analysts said.
Mandela’s “absence could in fact become a virtue -- not for the ANC but for the country,” K2 said. “It signals a necessary maturation in South Africa’s politics: the ANC’s transition from effective omnipotence, to having to deal with an increasingly powerful opposition.”
K2 was founded and is chaired by Kroll, who also started corporate intelligence agency Kroll Inc. He sold Kroll to Marsh & Mclennan Companies Inc. in 2004, with the unit generating $1 billion in revenue in 2008, according to the K2 website.