Natasha Marrian Political editor: Business Day
Strategy: The ANC’s support has been falling since 2004. It now suggests a more professional approach to winning votes. Picture: DAILY DISPATCH
Strategy: The ANC’s support has been falling since 2004. It now suggests a more professional approach to winning votes. Picture: DAILY DISPATCH

The ANC concedes that the 2019 election could pose a "serious challenge" for it if it fails to win sufficient electoral support and the party is developing policies on dealing with coalitions, according to policy discussion documents released on Sunday.

The party’s support at the polls has been in decline since 2004. Its worst performance was registered in the 2016 local government elections, where it received just 55.6% of the vote and lost three key metros: Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay.

It was forced to enter into coalitions to retain Ekurhuleni and Rustenburg. But both these coalitions are at risk as the party grapples to meet the terms set by its coalition partners.

ANC subcommittee on legislature and governance head Ayanda Dlodlo said at a media briefing on Sunday that while the ANC had considerable experience in dealing with coalitions, it had never documented this experience.

The governing party is now putting in place a coalition policy. It will also set out a framework for how its coalition teams should be constituted, which will spell out who will be mandated to negotiate terms for coalition arrangements.

The ANC said the 2016 election results led to a "soul searching process" within the party to determine why its performance slipped to slightly above 50%.

"There is no room for complacency. If further erosion of urban support takes place, combined with continued declines in turnout — even only by a few percentage points — then the 2019 elections could pose a serious challenge for the ANC in terms of electoral support," the
document said.

It wants to put in place a more "professional and sophisticated" electoral strategy.

"The ANC must also prepare itself for the complicated
relationships involved in coalition governments."

The document recommends that the party put together an "urgent plan and strategy" to consolidate its power and to win back lost ground.

It does not, however, go into detail about this plan.

It also recommends "professionalising" its approach to elections by creating a "dedicated and full-time political and
technical capacity that undertakes ongoing mass media mobilisation, regular polling and techniques of modern multiparty electioneering".

The document says that should the ANC fail to win outright, it should consider entering into coalitions.

"The ANC must lead and actively work to recruit opposition forces and coalition partners into becoming supporters and members of the ANC."

Organisational renewal head Fikile Mbalula said a "revolutionary electoral commission" would be established to assess potential leaders without undermining internal democracy in the party to improve the calibre of its government deployees.

"We are preparing to remain in power forever: that is our strategic objective," he said.

The party’s strategy and tactics document outlines the challenges it is facing which have led to a decline in its support.

"The ANC faces declining fortunes. Internal squabbles, money, politics, corruption and poor performance in government all conspire to undermine its legitimacy in the eyes of the broader public," the document on strategy and tactics said. The party will refine its proposals at its policy conference in June and policy will finally be decided on at its national conference in December.

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