A hole in the road: A metaphor for why the ANC is losing the confidence of the electorate

Published May 22, 2024


Around six weeks ago, a water pipe burst in my neighbourhood in Manor Gardens, Durban, leaving the taps dry for several hours while plumbers from eThekwini Municipality repaired it.

Such occurrences are not uncommon in the ANC-run eThekwini Municipality as the City’s ageing infrastructure battles under the constraints of urban expansion.

When the City plumbers were done, they left a huge hole in the road - which is a major arterial road in and out of the suburb - and cordoned it off with danger tape for cars not to drive into it.

A week later, the City, I presume, returned and filled the hole with sand.

Weeds and flowers soon began sprouting, and on my drive to work today, I noticed that some people in the community had decided to plant some palm trees in the sand and renamed it the Manor Gardens Big Hole.

It is examples like this, experienced by communities the length and breadth of our country, as to why the ANC will probably lose its outright majority in the elections later this month.

After repairing a burst water pipe six weeks ago, the eThekwini Municipality is yet to re-tar the section of the road in Manor Gardens, leaving residents to plant palm trees in it as a metaphor for the ANC-run municipality’s inefficiency. Picture: Lee Rondganger

The ANC has held the reins of power in South Africa for the past 30 years, entrusted by the majority of the electorate to steer the nation towards a brighter future.

The end of apartheid heralded a new dawn, with promises of democracy, equality, and prosperity.

However, as we approach the upcoming elections, it becomes painfully clear that the ANC has squandered this golden opportunity.

The reasons for their probable loss of electoral support are rooted in a pervasive failure to deliver basic services, rampant corruption, and a disconnect between the party's leaders and the people they are meant to serve.

The Manor Gardens Big Hole on Queen Elizabeth Drive is a small but telling act of community response that highlights a much larger problem: the ANC’s failure to manage the most basic of municipal responsibilities.

This incident is not isolated, but rather symptomatic of a broader malaise affecting communities across South Africa.

For years, the ANC has been trusted to lead, yet it has repeatedly placed incompetent individuals in positions of power.

Instead of prioritising merit and capability, the party has favoured loyalty and patronage.

This has resulted in a governance structure where key roles are filled by individuals who lack the necessary skills and expertise to fulfil their duties effectively.

Consequently, essential services such as water, electricity, and sanitation have been woefully neglected.

Moreover, the ANC’s track record on job creation has been dismal.

South Africa’s unemployment rate remains staggeringly high, exacerbating poverty and inequality.

Young people, in particular, find themselves without opportunities, disillusioned by broken promises and unfulfilled potential.

The party's failure to stimulate economic growth and create a conducive environment for business has only deepened the crisis.

The disconnect between ANC leaders and the electorate is starkly visible.

ANC secretary-general, Fikile Mbalula canvassing for votes in a Mercedes-Benz G-Wagon in uMlazi while his colleagues went door to door dressed in designer clothes recently was a stark reminder of how far removed they are from the daily struggles of ordinary South Africans.

While they live in comfort and luxury, the people they purport to represent are left to grapple with inadequate services, unemployment, and poverty.

Corruption within the ANC has also eroded public trust.

Numerous scandals have emerged over the years, involving high-ranking officials such as former eThekwini Mayor Zandile Gumede and 21 co-accused facing 2,786 counts of fraud, corruption and money laundering related to a R320-million DSW tender.

Instead of being held accountable, many of these individuals remain in positions of power, protected by the party's internal mechanisms.

Gumede was appointed as an MPL in the KZN Legislature, despite the serious charges against her.

This culture of impunity has further alienated the electorate, who see their leaders enriching themselves at the expense of the public good.

The ANC’s focus has shifted from serving the people to serving the party.

Internal factionalism and power struggles have taken precedence over governance.

The once united front that brought an end to apartheid is now fractured, with various factions vying for control.

This infighting has paralysed decision-making processes and hampered effective governance.

The upcoming elections present a crucial juncture for South Africa.

The ANC, once the symbol of hope for the majority of South Africans, now stands at the precipice of losing power.

The electorate is disillusioned and weary of unfulfilled promises.

The basic contract between the government and the governed – the provision of essential services, economic opportunity, and accountable leadership – has been broken.

The situation in Manor Gardens is emblematic of the ANC’s broader failures.

When a simple burst pipe can lead to a months-long impasse, it is clear that something is fundamentally wrong.

The community’s decision to rename the site the "Manor Gardens Big Hole" is not just a commentary on a local issue, but a metaphor for the gaping void in service delivery and governance that the ANC has left in its wake.

The ANC's leaders must bear responsibility for this state of affairs.

They were given a mandate to transform South Africa and create a better life for all its citizens.

Instead, they have prioritised personal gain and political manoeuvring over genuine progress.

This betrayal of trust is why they are likely to face a reduced majority in the upcoming elections.

** Lee Rondganger is Deputy Editor of IOL

*** The views expressed here do not necessarily represent the views of IOL or Independent Media

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