EDITORIAL: Load-shedding compounds ANC’s candidate list woes
Rolling blackouts, which have left some areas without electricity twice a day for more than four hours, are an electoral threat
The ANC released last week its list of candidates to contest the May 8 general election, a list littered with individuals implicated in state capture.
The party was kicked into crisis management mode, taking every opportunity to explain that no one on the list has been convicted of a crime and that everyone is innocent until proven otherwise.
Then things started snowballing for the governing party.
Stage four load-shedding gripped the country once again, a senior party member in KwaZulu-Natal was arrested in connection with the murder of former ANC Youth League secretary-general Sindiso Magaqa, and to top it off President Cyril Ramaphosa got stuck on a train.
Ramaphosa on Monday, while on the campaign trail for the ANC, took a train ride with commuters into Pretoria. A trip that should have taken 45min took three hours.
He sat on a packed train with commuters who have no choice but to use this form of transport daily.
A more daunting electoral threat, however, is the pressing issue of rolling blackouts, which have caused some areas to be without electricity twice a day, for more than four hours at a time, with no end in sight.
Public enterprises minister Pravin Gordhan said on Tuesday the government needs up to two weeks to say how long the power outages will last.
The power cuts are a nuisance to most people, who are used to a constant supply of electricity 24 hours a day. But a huge section of the population lacks access to electricity.
In the run-up to an election promises are made — after his train debacle Ramaphosa has already called for heads to roll if the country’s rails are not fixed.
In an election year, the promise to provide basic services such as water and electricity intensifies, even though promising electricity at this time does not seem possible.
It is now exactly 50 days until the country goes to the polls and it is yet to be seen whether these issues have any impact on the ANC’s support base.
The Institute of Race Relations (IRR) released on Sunday its Criterion Report, a quarterly market research survey of voter preferences, attitudes and SA’s political landscape, which shows that despite ANC voters being deeply unhappy with the government’s performance in delivering on core issues, they still believe an ANC government is best placed to do so.
People were asked among other things how the ANC national government performed on six core issues, and which of the ANC, DA or the EFF are best placed to deliver on those issues.
The six core issues polled included economic growth, crime, education, healthcare, corruption and land reform.
The poll found that in Gauteng the DA, which hopes to wrestle the province from the ANC, was chosen as best placed to deliver on three of six issues, among all voters: on economic growth and job creation (34.9%), fighting crime (34.7%) and fighting corruption (33.1%).
The poll was done before political parties revealed their candidate lists and before the re-emergence of load-shedding.
Sitting in the dark can give voters quite some time to reflect on their electoral choices and whether they should mark the X next to Ramaphosa’s face to give him and the ANC a fresh mandate.
Given his promise of growing an already distressed economy, the current state of Eskom should give him sleepless nights.
Eskom’s state is especially concerning given that in SA’s economic hub, Gauteng, the ANC is at risk of losing the province as opposition parties hope to push the ANC below 50% of electoral support.
One can only wonder what the results in the province would be if Eskom is not stabilised urgently.
Tick tock, Mr President.