It has become a tradition that the ANC takes the lead in launching its manifesto before other political parties table theirs.
The official launch of their manifesto at the Moses Mabhida Stadium today will mark the climax of the party’s activities since last week Friday. There is already a state of exhilaration among party leaders and supporters.
The launch comes against the backdrop of intra-party and intra-alliance squabbles which have left many wondering if the ANC will succeed in resuscitating itself.
But for those who understand the history of the ANC, recent developments are not enough to warrant its dissipation. If the ANC survived the historic Morogoro Conference in May 1969, it can survive anything.
What also gives the party a much-needed lifeline is the fact that there is no strong opposition party. Some old political parties are gradually becoming irrelevant while new and inexperienced parties are mushrooming with no clear agenda.
Most optimistic South Africans will be hoping for new promises which could potentially improve their lives. Those who are pessimistic will have less interest as they interpret this to be yet another chance for the ANC to make empty promises.
Opposition political parties will be watching with keen interest so they can either poke holes in the manifesto or use some of the points to bolster their own manifestos which are yet to be launched.
The business sector and international community will also be following the event eagerly to see what is in it for them.
Some will be hoping for things to remain the same if they benefit from the status quo, while others will be hoping for change if they have not benefited much from the existing party policies which find their way into government policies.
Members of the diplomatic community will be invited to witness this important event so they can report back to their home countries.
Given the state of the ANC and the alliance, it is critical to state that the ANC’s political opponents will be looking forward to resentment from within. But because politicians are also concerned about their own survival, they cannot afford to bite the hand that feeds them.
It would be disingenuous for members to criticise the ANC’s manifesto, having had the opportunity to make their input at branch and regional level or through the party structures.
Therefore even if some ANC and alliance members are not happy with parts of the manifesto, they are not likely to be too vocal about it – unless they want to discredit and embarrass themselves.
What are some of the issues most likely to feature in the ANC’s manifesto?
While each party has its own focal point, there are issues that are almost certain to find their way into the document. There are also issues which would paint the ANC in a bad light if they were not captured in it.
Among the many issues that are almost sure to be covered are economic development and job creation, added support for SMMEs and youth development, land redistribution, funding of fee-free higher education, acceleration of the pace in implementation of the national health insurance, and fighting crime and corruption.
Each of these areas will surely have its ramifications and added detail.
However, these are core issues that will appeal to all South Africans. Other issues, such as improvement in international relations, accelerated service delivery and related matters, will also probably find their way into the anticipated manifesto.
But because these are national and provincial elections, service delivery will not feature in the same manner that it features during the local government elections.
Besides launching the manifesto, the ANC will use this opportunity to paint a positive picture of itself as a campaign strategy. This is necessary, especially because the party has experienced several challenges since 2016.
The onus is on the leadership to revive hope, not only among party members but within the electorate in general.
There are members of the public who do not belong to any political party but who sympathise with the ANC and who would vote for it if they were convinced about its recovery plan.
Top of the list of the ANC’s campaign strategies will be to create the impression that the party is now united. President Cyril Ramaphosa started pushing this campaign strategy during the January 8 statement, when he said he was working well with former president Jacob Zuma and enjoyed the support of former president Thabo Mbeki. Calls by ANC veterans such as Snuki Zikalala for Zuma not to feature in the campaign for the ANC will be crushed under the guise of projecting a united ANC.
What will also be important for Ramaphosa and the ANC will be to invoke the leadership dexterity demonstrated by some of the ANC’s former leaders, such as John Langalibalele Dube, Albert Luthuli, Nelson Mandela and Peter Mokaba.
The main theme that will be projected by the ANC and which will reverberate throughout the campaign, will be of unity and a revived ANC.
Coupled with that will be an attempt by the party to boast about its achievements since 1994, on the basis of which it will promise to deliver even more if given a mandate to lead.
There is no doubt that the ANC will promise a landslide victory with a three-thirds majority, but only time will tell if the party will emerge victorious in their predictions.
* Mngomezulu is a professor of political science and deputy dean of research at the University of the Western Cape, politics department.