The run-up to the 2016 local government elections was characterised by smear campaigns, fear-mongering, miscalculations and misutterances, which South Africans responded to through the ballot.
When the voting stations closed on August 3, politicians were on their phones with their representatives in poll stations, on their smart gadgets refreshing applications for the most updated poll data, or on television waiting for the Independent Electoral Commission’s verdict.
As opinion polls had suggested, the Democratic Alliance and, to a lesser extent, the Economic Freedom Fighters, had gained significant ground at the expense of the ANC.
The black middle classes had voted – but not for the party that created them.
Contrary to political science theories of middle classes and democracy, the black middle classes do not seem to reflect unwavering loyalty to the ANC – they seemed to bite the hand that feeds them.
In part, this shift of balance results from the ANC’s sense of entitlement to the loyalty of the black middle classes. Among others, e-tolls, the Fallist campaigns, the Nkandla debacle, and the inefficiency of parastatals such as Eskom, the SABC and SAA have been especially important to them.
Traditionally, middle classes do not go to the streets because of the need (in their own interpretation) to preserve a level of modesty and dignity and because they are probably occupied with work.
Not that the working class is not occupied with work.