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December 16, 2007

ANC power struggle will sink the DA and IFP

The ANC power struggle doesn’t auger well for opposition parties.

The ANC is a party at war with itself and will not be able to function as a unified force after its Limpopo conference. Whether Zuma or Mbeki wins, one thing is for sure the ANC is a divided force.

Neither faction can do a simple thing like stop its followers from wearing tee shirts supporting either one. The mass of the ANC is an undisciplined and unwieldy lot. It makes me nervous when leaders can’t control their followers as is patent in Limpopo. In fact, if it is not watched, this lack of control will create a low-grade civil war. And, as you know, in Africa things escalate very quickly and we could sit with a real civil war like the one we had in KwaZulu Natal not so long ago. But, I digress …

Come next election, there’s a strong possibility that the ANC will split. If Jacob Zuma loses in Limpopo, he’ll create a new party, as will Mbeki’s successor.

If this happens, two parties will be seriously affected: the Democratic Alliance and the Inkatha Freedom Party.

Democratic Alliance (DA)

Since the ANC won 70% of the vote in the last election, this left the DA as the official opposition at a distant second – 12%. Simple math dictates that if the ANC splits, between it and the new party, it will still hold 70% of the vote. This means that the DA will come third in the next election and will not be the official opposition.

Inkatha Freedom Party

Whichever way Zuma goes, he’ll attract the Zulu vote in a big way. We’re far from a sophisticated society and vote for our tribe (who is the largest tribe in Zimbabwe? Now you know why Mugabe is still president and is being put forward to lead again). So, once again African tribalism will win and  it will be the Xhosas against the Zulus. If Zuma is the next President of the ANC, he’ll definitely attract a lot of voters from the IFP. I believe that this will be the death knell for the IFP.

If they want to be relevant after 2009, both the DA and IFP will have to come with radically new strategies to keep their power base.

Jacques de Villiers is a specialist in sales training and sales management

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