Lesufi faces tough task to turn ANC’s electoral fortunes around in Gauteng

The African National Congress (ANC) in Gauteng must formulate a plan on how to approach the 2024 general election; and if they don’t, it will spell disaster for the party.

This is according to political analyst Prof. Dirk Kotze who was reacting to Tuesday’s news that David Makhura has tendered his resignation as premier of the province and that ANC provincial chairperson and current Education MEC Panyaza Lesufi will now take over from him.

David Makhura resignation

A lot of questions were immediately asked about whether this is a wise move for the ANC in Gauteng.

Speaking to The Citizen, Kotze said going into the election without a plan for the ANC will be problematic, stressing that the plan must include Lesufi both as provincial chairperson and as premier. The plan will need to include a strategy on how the party will regain control of the three metros, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane and Johannesburg.

The City of Johannesburg is already led by the ANC, albeit a coalition agreement with other political parties.

The ANC’s Dada Morero was last week elected the new Mayor of Johannesburg following the ousting of former mayor Mpho Phalatse through a motion of no confidence.

ALSO READ: Joburg has new mayor: ANC’s Dada Morero promises to reduce load shedding

“If they (ANC Gauteng) go into this election with the image that they have lost the most significant part of the province already, then it will not be a very inspiring message that they will be giving to the electorate.

“Therefore I think that is certainly the plan and that is why I think they will quite soon make their move with respect to Tshwane and Ekurhuleni,” he said.

One man cannot change ANC’s fortunes

Kotze is of the view that the leadership of Lesufi cannot make the difference the party needs. He said statistics and trends suggest the ANC has experienced a major decline in support since the 2019 election, both locally and provincially.

“For example at provincial level, they only have a majority of only one seat in the Provincial Legislature which is something like 50.12%, so the majority is so slim, that there is nothing to negotiate about that and for Lesufi to turn it around, he is among the black part of the population, quite popular but not so much in terms of the rest of the population.

“Its also not about him (Lesufi) only this election, the issue of the e-tolls will come back, the issue around how they handled Life Esidimeni and the issue of corruption during the time of the Covid-19 pandemic will also come back as electoral issues. It will be difficult for him (Lesufi) and his colleagues to turn that around into a positive campaign,” Kotze said.

He said the new kid on the block, ActionSA, will also prove to be a serious challenge for the ANC in Gauteng, considering how they performed in last year’s local municipal elections, as well as Mmusi Maimane’s new party Build One SA.

ALSO READ: Elections 2021: ActionSA ‘takes white votes in Johannesburg’

“The Democratic Alliance (DA) has stabilised to a large extent, including the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF)… so it is very difficult to see where the ANC can make gains except if it can mobilise supporters who didn’t vote at all in the previous elections,” Kotze added.

Lesufi as face of the ANC

Another analyst, Prof. Sethulego Matebesi, is of the opinion that the ANC will find it difficult to consolidate on what they already have in terms of electoral support.

“The move by Gauteng ANC might be a strategic one but I think they should have just allowed Makhura to finish his term and then also go to their branches and say Makhura will continue being premier and that Lesufi will then start on a clean slate.

“I think with this move, the ANC is also trying to use Lesufi as the face of the party for the 2024 polls,” said Matebesi.

The political situation in Gauteng is not unique, at least in recent times as something similar happened in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) where a new premier was elected, even though it was not the parties provincial chairperson who took over the reigns from from premier Sihle Zikalala.

ALSO READ: Sihle Zikalala was never pushed to resign, says ANC KZN leaders

“I think this sets a bad precedent where some leaders do not finish their terms of office as people would also expect the same to be done to the president… it almost sounds like they are impatient.

“It also seems that whenever there is an elective conference on the way, contestation becomes so fierce hence this rush to have newly-elected party leaders replace their colleagues in government,” Matebesi added.

Meanwhile, President Cyril Ramaphosa has since denied Makhura was forced to resign.

ALSO READ: Ramaphosa denies Makhura ousted as Lesufi set to become Gauteng premier

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