The ANC has quite often been a lousy party of government. As a campaigner in national elections, in contrast, it has been consistently formidable. Victories are often attributed to factors outside the ANC’s control, such as voters’ knuckle-headed loyalty, entrenched race-based voting, or the self-destructive tendencies of opposition parties. These arguments are not terribly persuasive. Black citizens’ votes are now spread across a range of competing parties. White voters have become increasingly tribal, it is true, but their block vote for the DA scarcely bolsters ANC power. The two big opposition parties, moreover, know their way around an election campaign. This means the ANC deserves some credit for its electoral successes. It has cleverly reaped rewards for citizens’ gains, including improved access to housing, household services, and social grants. The ANC’s political research and advertising is quite professional, and its campaign team is selected on merit, regardless of facti...

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