Minister in the presidency Khumbudzo Ntshavheni maintains that “the Census 2022 results dispels the myth and narrative of a failed state. The data shows how the governing party has fulfilled its promise of a better life for all” (“I won’t back down,” November 28).
What she does not say is that the bulk of this progress was achieved in the eras of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, and that the subsequent Zuma and Ramaphosa eras have seen very little progress.
In a January 2023 report the Social Research Foundation demonstrated that whereas real per capita income levels had risen from R36,759 in 1994 to R48,694 in 2007 (33%), they barely increased thereafter and stood at R50,582 at the end of 2022.
Likewise, whereas the number of people with jobs almost doubled through the Mandela and Mbeki years, from 7,971,000 in 1994 to 13,236,000 in 2007, the number stood at 15,562 000 at the end of 2022. In terms of broader service delivery trends the pattern is the same.
For example, the share of families without electricity fell from nearly 50% in 1994 to 15%-20% in 2007, a level at which it remains today. We do extensive research into public and voter opinion. Time and again this bears out that voters are finely attuned to economic circumstances and that the material circumstances of households is a primary driver of ANC support.
In practice, those circumstances began to stagnate 15 years ago, and this is why ANC support is down from the near 70% level recorded in the 2004 election to nearer 45% in our October polls. Our January report showed that those material circumstances in turn tracked the country's economic growth rate, which in turn tracked the rate of fixed investment.
Short of raising the latter from the present level of about 15% of GDP to nearer 25%, there is likely no democratic route back to a comfortable electoral majority for the ANC.
Social Research Foundation
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