ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte. Picture: DAYLIN PAUL
ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte. Picture: DAYLIN PAUL

The ANC received a wake-up call following the dismal results it achieved in the 2016 local government election, deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said on Saturday.

Duarte addressed the media following the outcome of the preliminary final election results, which showed that the ANC retained a large, albeit reduced, majority nationally, and kept control of eight of the nine provinces.

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The ANC most notably held on to Gauteng with 50.19% of the support, where it tumbled to 45.84% of support in the province in 2016. The DA in 2016 received 37.23% of the support in Gauteng.

The ANC lost the majority of support in the three metros, and held onto Ekurhuleni via a coalition, but lost both Johannesburg and Tshwane to a DA-led minority government.

The province, which is the economic heartland of SA, was one of the key targets for the DA in the election as it hoped to push the ANC below 50% of the provincial share of the vote.

Instead, the DA itself lost support from 30.78% in 2014 to 27.45% in 2019. This fell way below the high level of support the party had in 2016.

The ANC had plummeted to 53.59% of support in 2014, from  just above 64% in 2009. By receiving 50.19% of the vote in Gauteng in 2019, it has arrested its electoral decline in no small way.

Duarte said the ANC had heard the voices of all South Africans and that the election results were a critical step in recovering from the low point the ANC was at in 2016.

“We also note with a great sense of appreciation the recovery of support and the upward trend in crucial areas, including metros and suburbs where in 2014 and 2016 we lost significant support,” she said.

Duarte said the ANC’s mandate was clear: South Africans wanted a growing economy that created jobs, programmes that tackled poverty more effectively, built viable communities close to work and reduced the cost of living.

She said citizens wanted to see a government that worked for them and that was efficient, as well as to see an end to state capture and swift action against those responsible for wrongdoing.

The ANC was punished severely at the polls, especially in urban areas, while it was led by Jacob Zuma.

Under his leadership, state capture became a part of the SA lexicon and state-owned enterprises were decimated. The ANC’s standing in society tanked, while relations within the alliance between the ANC, Cosatu and the SACP was at an all-time low before Cyril Ramaphosa was elected ANC president in December 2017, which set the ANC on a path of “renewal". 

Duarte said the election was, however, not only about the kind of government South Africans wanted, but also about what kind of ANC they wanted.

She said they wanted an ANC that was united, served the people of the country selflessly, acted with integrity and acted against those in its ranks.

The message was that South Africans' confidence in the ANC was returning, but that the party needed to correct its mistakes and pursue the process of renewal and rebuilding with greater effort, Duarte said.

She said the results clearly showed that not all South Africans had been fully convinced by the ANC.

“Their instruction is clear: we trust you, but do more and move more quickly to deal with corruption and state capture to ensure accountability and take the country on a higher path of growth and development,” Duarte said.