ANC faces vote shedding over non-stop blackouts

 ·15 Mar 2023

More than half of South African taxpayers want to vote the governing party out of power in next year’s elections because of rolling blackouts, a survey shows.

An online poll of almost 1,500 adults last month found that 65% of middle-income earners are seriously considering not voting for the African National Congress (ANC) in next year’s general elections, according to a BrandMapp-Silverstone report published on the website of Cape Town-based consultancy WhyFive.

Africa’s most industrialized economy has been subjected to rolling blackouts, known locally as load shedding, since 2008 because state power utility Eskom has been unable to meet demand from its old and poorly maintained plants.

The daily outages are costing the country as much as R899 million per day and hobbling economic growth, with output only expected to increase 0.3% this year, according to the central bank.

“Taxpayers of South Africa are being pushed to the limits, not just of their tolerance, but of their ability to remain resilient, productive and positive about the future,” the company said. “It could be argued that all social revolutions begin at the crest of a wave of urgency, and if that is indeed true, then we have certainly reached that point.”

The survey data shows that regardless of race, age, location and gender, South Africans are placing the blame for the power crisis at the feet of the ANC.

The only two other serious considerations regarding load shedding on par with voting the ANC out of power is going completely off-grid or emigrating.

About 14.7 million individuals in a working-age population of 40.5 million are registered taxpayers in South Africa, according to National Treasury data.

The survey also found that:

  • As many as 85% of those who participated in the survey feel despondent about the future of the country because of power cuts.
  • 58% of people under the age of 35 are considering emigrating.
  • 72% of respondents said blackouts have negatively affected their work life, with productivity the biggest casualty.
  • 61% of respondents have resorted to using candles to deal with outages.

“We’ve been forced back 100 years,” BrandMapp-Silverstone said. “When candle power is the best solution, you have to know there’s a problem!”

Read: How middle-class South Africans are trying to escape load shedding

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