Splits within South Africa’s ruling ANC may cause it to lose power at the next national elections in 2019, according to a senior cabinet member.
“If the situation stays as it is, the risk of losing power is there,” Malusi Gigaba, the home affairs minister, said in an interview in New York on Monday. “The ANC is divided. The centre doesn’t seem to be holding. We need to address that.”
While the ANC has dominated South African politics since the end of apartheid in 1994, it’s facing rising discontent over anemic economic growth and a 27% unemployment rate, among the highest levels globally. The party suffered its worst electoral result to date in municipal voting on August 3, when it lost control of the cities of Johannesburg, the main economic hub, Pretoria, the capital, and Port Elizabeth.
“The elections drove a cold and brutal message that we can never take the support of the people for granted,” Gigaba, 45, said. “You have an unprecedented level of people who are feeling pessimistic, who feel the country is not going in the right direction. They say there are no jobs, there are high levels of corruption, crime is high.”
Gigaba dismissed a call last month by the ANC Youth League, which he formerly headed, for the party’s next major policy conference to be brought forward from late 2017, when it will vote to give Zuma another term or elect a new party leader.
An ill-prepared conference “would replace one problem with a new one,” he said. “The worst thing the ANC can do is rush into an elective conference without a proper analysis of the challenges it’s facing, occasioned by the recent elections. We shouldn’t jump the gun. We’d be making a terrible mistake.”