Cape Town – The black middle class – the mainstay of ANC supporters – could ditch the party in the upcoming elections because of load shedding and reports of corruption.
Yonela Mvana, provincial chairperson for the Black Management Forum (BMF) – a group of young middle class professionals – said these issues, if unresolved, would determine how their members vote.
“The power cuts, we believe as professionals, have to do with our government’s capacity to manage utilities like Eskom. A lot of the problems at Eskom emanate from corruption and the right type of management.
“Of great concern is how you manage the economy and the impact on small businesses (which) are the drivers of our economy. If the government doesn’t turn the tide and bring about leadership change then we as young professionals need to exercise our discretion on who we vote for at the end of the day. It’s definitely going to have an impact on the voting.”
Dr Ntsikelelo Benjamin Breakfast from the school of Security and African Studies at Stellenbosch University said the black middle class were those who were more informed because they had access to the internet and other electronic media.
“You will get the die-hard voters (for who it) doesn’t matter what happens around them, they will still vote for their favourite party. Then you get the rational voter who votes in relation to public political issues and in relation to media coverage,” he said.
“The ANC has already lost three municipalities in urban areas because these people have access to electronic media. The issue of Eskom is going to have an influence on the political balance of the votes cast on election day.”
Professor Cherrel Africa at the UWC’s Political Studies Department said corruption and load shedding could impact voting decisions, but added that voting in South Africa was complex.
According to her, voters take into account a range of factors including the behaviour and strategic choices of political parties and political leaders.
“There are deep levels of dissatisfaction with the ANC for many reasons, including the fact that power provision is unstable.
“South Africans are also disillusioned with the dire economic situation as well as the depth and extent of corruption emerging from the various commissions.
“Voters may conclude that the ANC should be punished for the systemic corruption and erosion of state institutions which has damaged the economy and significantly increased the cost of living for ordinary South Africans,” Africa said.
“Voters may use this as a mechanism to register their displeasure with the ANC. Currently voters face a very difficult choice.
“Following the shift in the balance of power in the ANC, the DA has, to some extent, struggled to recalibrate itself while the EFF’s confrontational mode of engagement could be alarming to voters.”
She pointed out there had been a groundswell of support for President Cyril Ramaphosa, but as recent polls suggested one may see increased split voting with lowered support for the ANC predicted at provincial level.
Already entire communities and business are feeling the brunt of Stage 4 load shedding imposed by Eskom.