The ANC is considering changing the Electoral Act, which it blames for benefiting opposition parties at its expense.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe said on Thursday in Centurion, near Pretoria, that the electoral system, and how the allocation of seats between parties was calculated, would be part of the discussion as the ruling party reflected on the election results.
The ANC is reeling after losing outright control of some of the most important municipalities and metros to opposition parties. Its support has fallen from 62% of the national vote in 2011 to 54% now.
Although the ANC polled most votes across the country, it has been forced to seek coalitions in three important metros in Gauteng after losing Nelson Mandela Bay, in Eastern Cape, to the DA.
Mantashe said the party had noticed a “strange phenomenon” in that it received fewer council seats allocated by proportional representation even though it won significant majorities in the wards.
“In wards in which we got significant majorities, we ended up with fewer proportional representation seats than normal. Is that meant to give smaller parties a voice? We will have to debate that,” he said.
He said the ANC took most of the wards in Nelson Mandela Bay and Johannesburg but was allocated fewer seats than opposition parties that had won fewer wards.
The ANC began a four-day meeting of its national executive committee yesterday unsure of whether it will be in charge of the the Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni metros, and of other smaller municipalities in which it commanded less than 50% of the vote.
“We have to find out what are the implications of these 27 [hung] councils. We will look back at 1994 and see whether we are in decline. What do we need to do to arrest that decline?
“The essence of the meeting is to say how do we interpret that message [from the electorate].”
Mantashe said the ANC would look into the proportional representation system, the merits of which should be open to discussion.
The Times understands that the reconsideration of the electoral system, including proportional representation, was proposed by ANC-aligned mayors three years ago when Pravin Gordhan was minister of local government.
Party members yesterday said they had hoped that a review of the Electoral Act and of proportional representation would have been completed before this year.
“We have noted that the proportional representation system is becoming a threat to our majority but we did not move fast enough to deal with it,” said a senior party member who is also a member of the SA Local Government Association.
“We hope the [ANC] national executive committee will now look into it seriously and find a balance that is fair to us all.”
Struggle veterans and ordinary members of the ANC continue to call for a “clean-out” of the leadership and a change in how the party responds to voters’ needs.
KwaZulu-Natal’s ANC Youth League yesterday called for change.
Youth league provincial secretary Thanduxolo Sabelo said: “Younger people should take over the ANC. We believe in a generational mix and in organisation renewal.”
He said the top six of the ANC should be dominated by young people.
ANC veteran Frank Chikane yesterday revealed that he had given party leaders a document titled “The Soul of the ANC is Under Attack” before the elections.
The Chikane document warned of a downward turn in the party’s fortunes and a “loss of confidence” that, if not curbed, would lead to the ANC losing metros or major cities in one to five years, then some provinces and, in the next nine to 14 years, being defeated in a national election.
– Additional reporting by Nathi Olifant