[Marxism] How popular is the ANC among black South Africans? - a comrade's problem with statistics

Philip Ferguson philip.ferguson at canterbury.ac.nz
Mon Feb 12 23:00:04 MST 2007

Marx and Lenin were very interested in statistics.

Walter seems not so keen.  Nor to have quite their grasp of how to match
up statistics.

He doesn't like the WHO stats on how child mortality rates have gone up
and life expectancy gone down in recent years under the SACP-ANC
government, so he suggests that Sayan citing these stats is some kind of
support for apartheid.  (This, of course, is on par with his co-thinker
Luko's claim that my opposition to Sinn Fein endorsing the British
colonial police is evidence of my support for British imperialism!)

Then, having dismissed Sayan's uncomfortable stats, Walter uses stats
selectively to suggest that support for the ANC is going up among the
black masses in South Africa.

Thus he amusingly writes:
>And none of the people who don't agree with me can explain 
why it is that, after ten years in power, with living standards 
presumably being lower than under apartheid, black South 
Africans support the ANC by a LARGER MAJORITY
now than they have before. What do you think is wrong with 
those black people in South Africa that they cannot see what 
you see?

Actually, the stats show something entirely different.  As Lajany
showed, the stats actually indicate a massive increase in the
*abstention rate* among black South Africans.  (There has also been a
shift of a section of white voters from the old National Party to the

How is it that voter participation in South Africa has plummeted to US
levels since the ANC has been in power if the ANC has been so empowering
of black South Africans? 

In the US low voter turnout is explained by the lack of any real
difference between the Democrats and Republicans and the resulting
alienation of masses of working class people, especially the poorest,
from the existing electoral process.

Walter, however, appears completely blind to the same process at work in
South Africa.

Lajany noted that the turnout at the last election was a mere 56
percent.  The ANC's 70 percent of 56 is thus about 39 percent support
among those entitled to vote.  In the 1994 election the turnout was
massive - I think something over 90 percent and the ANC got almost
two-thirds of that vote - so around 60 percent of the eligible voters
voted ANC.

So in roughly a decade, the ANC overall support *declined* from 60
percent of the eligible voters to about 39 percent of the eligible
voters.  That's a huge drop.  

Also, given that it has picked up white voters, the decline of its vote
among blacks is even more dramatic than these figures indicate.

Walter might like to reassess his absurd claim that the ANC is even more
popular than ever among black South Africans.  (I won't hold my breath
waiting for him to admit this, however.)


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