Briefing by Frans Cronje: Will the ANC survive Covid-19? - IRR

5 May 2020 - Dr Frans Cronje, CEO of the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) will be presenting an online briefing tomorrow morning on the political implications of the Covid-19 crisis for the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

Press Release

Dr Frans Cronje, CEO of the Institute of Race Relations (IRR) will be presenting an online briefing tomorrow morning on the political implications of the Covid-19 crisis for the ruling African National Congress (ANC).

He will draw on the analysis presented in his book, The Rise or Fall of South Africa (published this week and available on Amazon for Kindle*) coupled with an appraisal of the consequences of the government’s handling of the coronavirus crisis thus far.

The mounting economic crisis spurred by the extended lockdown and draconian regulations limiting economic activity has heaped pressure on a ruling party that, even before the pandemic struck, was presiding over pitifully low growth, high unemployment, soaring debt, excessive state spending and wasteful investment in failing state-owned enterprises.

Can the ANC survive the crisis?

This is the question Dr Cronje will seek to answer.

In The Rise or Fall of South Africa, Cronje observes that ‘...short of destroying democratic institutions and the rule of law, and inflaming racial nationalist sentiment and hysteria, there is little prospect now that the ANC can stave off eventual electoral defeat. Its defeat is an event that we have long advised clients to factor into their assessments of South Africa’s trajectory through the 2020s and into the 2030s.’
 
The Covid-19 crisis has only intensified the ruling party’s difficulties, the consequences of which Dr Cronje will discuss in greater detail in tomorrow’s briefing. 
 
‘Buttressing our ANC defeat thesis is data from polls conducted around the elections in 2019. The headline result from those elections was that the ANC secured 57.5 per cent of the vote…. [but what the data] suggests is that ANC support is now on the wrong side of three South African megatrends.
 
‘The first is that the ANC does better among less-educated people in a country where, despite the school system, the education profile of people has improved markedly. The second is that the ANC does very badly among young people in a country where only a third of people are over the age of 35. The third is that the ANC does poorly in urban areas in a country that continues to urbanise.
 
‘Factor those observations into our assessment that ANC voters vote on their material circumstances, but that the ANC is devoid of influential reformers and structurally unable to take the decisions needed to get the economy growing, and you may begin to think that ANC defeat is not only plausible but, in fact, probable.’
 
Cronje adds: ‘Worse for the party is that, as its support sinks, it is running out of the money it needs to run the country and sustain the patronage networks that hold the party together. Debt levels that have doubled over the past decade and a tax-to-GDP take that has reached a record high means that there is ever less public money with which to provide services or finance patronage. If the economic growth rate remains a fraction of the budget deficit, then the fiscal position is unsalvageable and the government may come close to running out of the revenues it needs to run the country (and hold itself together) within the same window of time ahead of the 2024 election in which it runs out of votes.’
 
*Hard copies of The Rise or Fall of South Africa will be printed when and if South Africa’s present lockdown is lifted.

Details of the briefing:
Date: Tomorrow/Wednesday 6 May
Time: 10 am
Platform: Microsoft Teams. Go to https://bit.ly/IRR-Press-Briefing-Frans-Cronje 
 

Media contact: Hermann Pretorius, IRR Deputy Head of Policy Research – 079 875 4290; hermann@irr.org.za
Media enquiries: Michael Morris Tel: 066 302 1968 Email: michael@irr.org.za
Kelebogile Leepile Tel: 079 051 0073 Email: kelebogile@irr.org.za
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