Power in Cape Town is a dis­tant mem­ory for the ANC. Could it now also lose Pretoria, SA’s other city of po­lit­i­cal power? Ferial Haffajee does the sums TSH­WANE Is there a cor­re­la­tion be­tween protests and un­em­ploy­ment?


If there are two pho­to­graphs that mark two days that sym­bol­ise the ANC com­ing to power, it is th­ese. Top left is Nel­son Man­dela’s in­au­gu­ra­tion as pres­i­dent in 1994 at the Union Build­ings. This tear-jerker of a day fea­tured apartheid’s air­craft fly­ing over­head, car­ry­ing the crazily coloured new flag that re­placed the aus­ter­ity of the orange, blue and white. Top right is David Gold­blatt’s iconic image of the first group of MPs of our first demo­cratic Par­lia­ment. The image was re­cently on ex­hibit at the Stan­dard Bank Gallery in Jo­han­nes­burg and the lengths the photographer went to to shoot it guar­an­tee it a place in the an­nals of history. But more than that, there is the sym­bol­ism of place. Par­lia­ment was the seat of apartheid, the con­cep­tion room of all the laws of its grand de­sign. The image is a sym­bol of the vic­tory of good over evil, and di­ver­sity over race and gen­dered su­pe­ri­or­ity.

Look at the de­light of dif­fer­ence: the rep­re­sen­ta­tion of ru­ral and ur­ban; so­phis­ti­cated and sim­ple; age; class; and, yes, of race. The Union Build­ings were just fine this week, but the sur­round­ing town­ships were a pretty good im­per­son­ation of Fal­lu­jah in Iraq as fires raged. Fire is rapidly be­com­ing the story of 2016.

And in the local gov­ern­ment elec­tions, now just over a month away, the ANC could lose Pretoria, which is part of Tsh­wane, if pre­dic­tive polls are cor­rect. This week, Ip­sos and eNCA took the city’s pulse as the flames licked and found the DA had a 10 per­cent­age-point lead over the gov­ern­ing ANC. If that hap­pens, the gov­ern­ing party could end the cam­paign with two key po­lit­i­cal cap­i­tals out of its hands.

The sym­bol­ism of that will be sig­nif­i­cant. The lat­est polls from Ip­sos show the ANC at 20% in Cape Town. The party has all but given up on win­ning back not only the Western Cape but also Cape Town, where Pa­tri­cia de Lille this week took its mil­i­tant poo wing (of­fi­cially the Ses’Khona move­ment) and put them in blue T-shirts. If th­ese two cap­i­tals are gov­erned out­side the ANC, that will be a big power shift.

“It’s pos­si­ble,” says Mari Har­ris, a po­lit­i­cal an­a­lyst and Ip­sos di­rec­tor. “If the ANC loses one metro [of the five it runs], it is more likely to be Nel­son Man­dela Bay. Pretoria is still only a loss pos­si­bil­ity. The big num­ber is the 17% of peo­ple who are un­de­cided.”

The un­de­cided camp is his­tor­i­cally ANC, but wa­ver­ing. The Graph­ics24


EMO­TIONAL The in­au­gu­ra­tion of Nel­son Man­dela as pres­i­dent in 1994 at the Union Build­ings in Pretoria


CUS­TO­DI­ANS Mem­bers of the Con­sti­tu­tional Assem­bly on the steps of the Se­nate House in the par­lia­men­tary precinct in Cape Town, shortly af­ter they had unan­i­mously adopted the Con­sti­tu­tion of SA in 1996

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