Political commentator Justice Malala says that urban dwelling black intellectuals, dubbed “the clever blacks” by Jacob Zuma, have exacted their revenge on the president following the results of the 2016 elections.
In a column for the Guardian, Malala said that voters were angry over a lack of jobs, poor service delivery and scandals that have plagued Zuma.
The term ‘clever blacks’ was coined back in 2012, when Zuma insulted urban blacks “who become too clever”, saying: “They become the most eloquent in criticising themselves about their own traditions and everything.”
“Last week, the “clever blacks” had their revenge on Zuma, delivering the heaviest electoral loss to Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress since democracy dawned in 1994 while setting up a mighty contest for national elections in 2019,” Malala wrote.
Bloomberg reported that the recent municipal elections has left the ANC with an absolute majority in just three of the eight main metropolitan areas, down from seven in 2011.
It won 54.5% of the popular vote, and lost its majority in the capital, Pretoria, the industrial hubs of Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni, and the port city of Port Elizabeth.
The ANC continues to dominate the 205 smaller councils, taking 158 outright in 2016.
“The ANC now finds itself holding onto small towns and rural areas, where many residents depend on government services and grants,” Somadoda Fikeni, a politics professor at the University of South Africa in Pretoria told Bloomberg. “The middle class and workers in the factories are not so dependent on the state.”
The Democratic Alliance saw its share of the national vote increase to 27% from 22.2% in 2014 and is now the biggest party in three cities, while the Economic Freedom Fighters, garnered 8.2% of the vote.
Malala said that under Zuma, the ANC has been ravaged by corruption scandals, infighting and splits. Unemployment has increased beyond 26% while credit rating downgrades still loom as the Reserve Bank predicts zero growth for South Africa in 2016.
The analyst said that the ANC ran a negative and racist campaign aimed at the DA, to mask its own failings. “Campaigning in Nelson Mandela Bay, Zuma called the DA ‘snakes, the children of the National party’ and repeatedly referred to its young black leader as a puppet of whites,” Malala said.
“Urban South Africans did not buy this scaremongering. As the memories of the Mandela years and the liberation struggle have faded, and the ANC’s internal troubles have spilled out into the open, so too has unquestioning faith in the country’s liberation party and its veterans such as Zuma.
“The legitimacy conferred upon them by the struggle is no longer a mask for their failings in a country that is now scarred by stories of rampant political corruption, crime and poverty.”