ANC Cancels Meeting With Allies to Focus on Election Losses

  • Party’s National Executive Committee to meet over four days
  • ANC alarmed at scale of decline in support, analyst says

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress canceled a scheduled meeting that would have included its labor union and communist party allies and will instead have its highest decision-making body review the local election results, its worst since the end of apartheid.

A four-day National Executive Committee meeting starts Thursday in the capital, Pretoria, with the review of the election performance one of the topics to be discussed, ANC spokesman Zizi Kodwa said Wednesday, declining to elaborate. About 100 senior members are expected to attend. The party had planned that the wider meeting, known as a “Lekgotla,” would take place this coming weekend.

A key topic of discussion at the meeting will be “how do we arrest the decline and turn the situation around,” ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe told reporters Thursday in Pretoria, the capital.

The ANC’s support fell below 50 percent in four major metropolitan areas, including Tshwane, which includes Pretoria, and Johannesburg, the country’s economic hub, while it retained majority control of only three of the nation’s eight metropolitan councils. Coalition talks are continuing among parties including the opposition Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters. They have until Aug. 20 to form governments in a total of 27 hung councils across the country following the Aug. 3 elections.

Party Alarm

“The fact they want to dedicate the entire four days to ANC business shows there is alarm at the magnitude of the decline for the party,” Mcebisi Ndetyana, a politics professor at the University of Johannesburg, said by phone on Wednesday. “Any party that drops by 8 percentage points with national elections just in three years-time should be alarmed. But the question is not whether or not they are alarmed, but is whether they have the guts to do anything about it.”

The meeting needs to press “the reset button’’ so that corrupt officials can be pushed out of the party or the ANC will be in danger of losing power at national level within the next decade, said Reverend Frank Chikane, who was a member of the NEC from 1997 to 2007. Quick action should be taken before the party elects a new leader to replace Jacob Zuma as ANC president next year, he said.

“If they don’t change, unfortunately, and continue on this trajectory into 2017, you will lose provinces and will lose a national election,’’ Chikane, 65, told reporters Thursday in Johannesburg.

The rand was little changed on Thursday after a three-day rally that took the currency to the best levels since mid-October against the dollar, boosted partly by speculation that the ANC’s loss of support will pressure the party to introduce economic reforms that will spur growth and cut unemployment. The rand gained 0.1 percent to 13.2610 per dollar by 5 p.m. in Johannesburg.

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