Partisans of South Africa's ruling
African National Congress (ANC) are expressing confidence the party would be
victorious in this year's general election. They say the victories in the
recent by-election is an indication that the party is set to maintain its two
thirds majority in parliament despite a recent breakaway faction that has
formed a new party. But the breakaway party, the Congress of the People (COPE)
led by loyalists of former President Thabo Mbeki said it was encouraged by the
two wards it won from the ruling ANC in the by-election. Political
analyst Adams Habib told reporter Peter Clottey that it is not fair to expect
the new party to win the upcoming general election.
the ANC would say that and it's worth bearing in mind that they have won some
election. But it's also worth bearing in mind that in the Western Cape in
December, COPE performed exceedingly well in by-elections in the Western Cape.
And does it mean that COPE would give the ANC a run for their money? The big
question is what do we mean by that? Is it fair to expect an opposition party
that emerged in October to win the elections? I don't think that that is fair
neither do I think it is possible," Habib pointed out.
said it would be difficult for the new opposition party to significantly thwart
the efforts of the ruling ANC party in this year's general election.
think COPE has very little chance of unseating the ANC in the 2009 election. Is
it likely that COPE could perform exceedingly well to become the official
opposition? It would require something of between 10 to 15 percent in that
regard and I think that is a distinct possibility. It does depend on how it
manages the election and how it projects itself, but I think COPE has the
potential to become the official opposition with 10 to 15 percent. If it were
to succeed in doing that it would make a major dent in the South African
political system and transform the system because for the first time we would
have an official opposition although 14 or 15 percent. Would nevertheless be
competing from votes in the same electoral pool as the ANC," he said.
said although it was possible for the ruling party to win this year's election,
there are possibilities it could lose its two thirds majority needed to amend
seems the ANC would likely win this election fairly comfortably and I tin it is
likely to lose its two thirds. So it is likely to win say anywhere between 60
and 65 percent of the votes, which would give it a comfortable majority, but it
would not give it sufficient majority to interfere with the constitution I
don't think that it needs to do that anyway. And I think however that COPE
together with coalition parties could constitute a threat in particular region
I think in the Western Cape in the Eastern Cape and they might have a challenge
may be in the Northern Cape. But I don't think it could unseat the ANC," Habib
said the ANC would have its reputation possibly challenged depending on the
success of the opposition COPE in the upcoming election.
tragedy for the ANC is that given the way it is Barack Obama for instance won
53 percent of the votes in the United States of the popular votes and it was
described as a landslide. If the ANC were to get 64 percent it would have been
described as a defeat because if it doesn't get to two thirds most people would
interpret that as a major defeat, and that is the dilemma for the ANC," he
described as not good enough claims by the opposition COPE that it has wrestled
two wards from the ANC to give confidence ahead of the election.
think it is an interesting thing to say and I think winning two ward elections
is not good enough actually. Basically, COPE does need a national organization
infrastructure and it does need a national foot print if it's going to be seen
and perceived as a viable opposition party. It does have some presence in the
Western Cape it does have presence in the Eastern Cape and some presence in
Gauteng. But it does need to move beyond those provinces and winning two
elections on its own doesn't suggest that. I think we have to wait and see in this
election whether it has managed to develop an organizational footprint at a
national level," he said.
Some political analysts say the results of the
by-elections so far suggest the ANC had reorganized itself after a poor showing
in December's by-elections when it lost most of the seats in the Western Cape
The Breakaway Congress of the People (COPE) has vowed to
contest the election by capitalizing on the anxiety among middle class voters
and business over the influence of trade unions and communists in the ruling
ANC party. But significant doubts remain that COPE can gain enough traction to
be pose a serious challenge to the ANC, which has won two-thirds of the vote in