Firstly, we need to understand the important role that the ANC played in South Africa post-Apartheid, 1994. However, with the excellence the party bestowed, the detriments of the party and its members overcome by greed and power subsequently led to the economic decline in South Africa. Looking at the factors that contributed to the ANC’s downfall from a subjective point, beginning with corruption, economic decline, failure to address poverty and inequality, increase in crime rates, unfulfilled promises and service delivery failures, and young disillusionment, among other factors eroded the image of the ANC.


There has been a significant increase in corruption within the ANC, which resulted in the mismanagement of funds and the enrichment of party members. This can be attributed to public distrust and weakened the party’s standing. According to Pinto, Africa’s second-largest economy is struggling, while corruption and economic mismanagement have eroded public confidence. Pinto adds that the post-apartheid period was characterized by high expectations. "With the transition to majority rule, the nation sought to achieve its economic potential by creating equal opportunities for all South Africans".1 But after peaking in the 2004-2007 period, the economy has encountered challenges and setbacks. These were accompanied by major corruption scandals and perceptions that the regime was failing to fulfil its promises of prosperity.

Economic decline

The ANC’s economic policies were criticized for contributing to South Africa’s economic decline, which shed light on issues such as the increase in the unemployment rate, slow to no economic growth over periods, and an unequal distribution of wealth embedded in the Gini-coefficient of South Africa. The public disillusionment of the ANC can be seen through President, Cyril Ramaphosa’s, modest 2% growth in the economy in 2022, while the pandemic (COVID-19) affected the economy, alongside the fiscal pressure amid the increase in employment and social grants. With a 32.7% rate of unemployment, the malaise of the South African economy lies subsequentially in yet more symptoms owing to its decline.

Failure to address poverty and inequality

Failure to address poverty and inequality: Despite being in power for over two decades, the ANC has been unable to effectively address poverty and inequality in South Africa. Many South Africans feel that their economic conditions have not improved under ANC governance. According to Francis and Webster (2019), South Africa is a paradox, it is one of the most unequal countries in the world. "Half of all South Africans continue to live in poverty, economic growth has stagnated and inflation remains high, while the unemployment rate continues to climb towards 30%."2 On the other hand, it has one of the most progressive constitutions in the world, with a bill of rights that foregrounds expanded socioeconomic rights.

Escalating crime rates

The ANC has faced criticism for its inability to effectively combat crime, which remains a major concern among South Africans. This has further eroded public confidence in the party's ability to maintain law and order. Pinto (2023) argued that under former President, Jacob Zuma’s, administration the country experienced its first post-apartheid era recession because of unfavorable external factors, unsound economic policies, and high levels of corruption. "The country has not escaped a vicious cycle of lackluster growth, persistent high poverty, rising unemployment, and worrying crime statistics."1

Unfulfilled promises and service delivery failures

The ANC's failure to fulfill promises made during election campaigns, such as providing basic services like water, electricity, and housing, has led to growing frustration among the population. Service delivery failures have become an important factor in the ANC's decline. An opinion piece published by former Democratic Alliance (DA) leader, Helen Zille, titled ‘ANC’s broken promises’ in 2009, highlighted that THE African National Congress's 2009 election manifesto contains many fine words and laudable aims. The true test is whether or not they will be implemented. That seems unlikely because, after 15 years in Government, the ANC has left a trail of broken promises.

Youth disillusionment

The ANC's traditional base of support, particularly among the youth, has been eroding as young voters increasingly feel disconnected from the party. This is due to a perception of the ANC as being out of touch and failing to address the concerns of the younger generation. Mail & Guardian (2023) discussed how For South Africa’s political system to be representative, all parts of society must be included. When young people are disenfranchised or disengaged from political processes, a significant portion of the population has little or no voice or influence in decisions that affect them.3 A key consequence is the undermining of our political system because of a lack of representativeness.


Under the ANC’s administration, it is not difficult to say that the party created issues that could have been avoided, however, under the ANC promises seem to be delusional applied when general or national elections arise in South Africa. If the ANC can implement the principles of ubuntu and the ideologies that the veterans who fought apartheid had, the party can be once again great as it was in the 1990s.


1 Pinto, T, N. (2023, May 15). The lost promise of South Africa. Geopolitical Intelligence Services.
2 Francis, D., and Webster, E. (2019, September 16). Poverty and inequality in South Africa: critical reflections. Taylor & Francis Online.
3 Mokgonyana, K. (2023, March 11). Why young people must vote in the 2024 national elections. Mail & Guardian.

Zille, H. (2009, January 29). ANC’s broken promises. News24.