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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