ANC prevails at polls because it enables corruption

The politicians accused of corruption, they are the loudest in condemning the governing party’s corruption, says the writers.

The politicians accused of corruption, they are the loudest in condemning the governing party’s corruption, says the writers.

Published Apr 13, 2024


Dugan Brown and Yonela Toshe-Mlambo

The ANC has been dominating South African elections since 1994, though scholars argue that its limitations when it comes to dismantling colonialism and the debilitating socio-economic conditions confronting African people have led to a crisis for the party, which witnessed a massive drop in support in the 2019 general elections.

That the ANC liberated South Africa from the shackles of apartheid and colonialism has been argued to be the significant factor for the party’s electoral dominance, notwithstanding the now vague and popular enunciations about corruption and lack of service delivery.

However, political explanations which posit that the ruling party’s expansion of minimal welfare programmes – such as, but not limited to, the varieties of social grants – are a significant contributor to the ANC’s continued electoral dominance are not sufficient.

This political explanation is, by and large, undermining the agency of ANC voters and supporters.

There is a sociological paradoxical factor that contributes to the electoral dominance of the ANC that has been ignored. This sociological paradoxical factor is the intricate and systematic enabling of corruption to permeate South African society at large.

The ANC has holistically enabled corruption to spread throughout South African society, albeit on a smaller scale if it is committed by citizens, as opposed to its cadres.

Therefore, these corrupt individuals in our society continue to vote for the ANC because the party enables them to practise corruption. Should a different political party ascend to power, then a fear of retribution would lead to them ceasing to continue corrupt activities.

For instance, in one way or another, you probably know a person, a neighbour or a family member engaged in corrupt activities without consequences.

To the extent that if there was an evaluation of all driver’s license holders, many would be found to have got them through corruption, yet some of these people who got their licences through bribing traffic officers would be the loudest to condemn corruption.

Furthermore, you will find people who connived with Home Affairs officials to falsify their dates of birth, or have two identity cards, in order to claim an old-age grant at an earlier age or to earn a social grant, though they have no children.

There are many students who were deemed not eligible for NSFAS funding; however, owing to an absence of stringent evaluation measures and the corruption culture that permeates our society, several of them have obtained funding.

These students would just merely submit relatives’ documents as their parents, or write affidavits at the local police station stating that their parents were unemployed, and so receive the funding.

Shockingly, today and similar to the politicians accused of corruption, they are the loudest in condemning the governing party’s corruption.

Further, the lack of government scrutiny in evaluating NSFAS applications was an inevitable contributing factor to the implosion of the funding scheme, which many are deliberately silent about when talking about its failures.

They argue, however, that government’s reduction in budget contributions towards funding higher education led to a crisis in the funding scheme. This blanket funding argument makes the “radicals” uncomfortable and they often contend that such an argument is irrational and a manifestation of colonial nostalgia for depriving Africans of access to higher education.

The ANC continues to dominate South Africa’s elections because there is no credible opposition party that challenges it, and those who do challenge it are in one way or another embroiled in corruption. As we have argued, the ANC further enabled corruption to permeate our society, thus it continues to dominate the South African elections.

The argument that ordinary people continue to vote for the governing party because of the minimal welfare programmes is not sufficient.

Another factor as to why ordinary people continue to vote for the governing party is its ability to enable them to participate in corrupt activities, with limited punitive consequences for its loyal members.

* Brown is a BSocSci Honours student at UCT and Toshe-Mlambo is a freelance socio-political commentator.

Cape Times