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More Opinion and Analysis

5 early takeaways from the elections

2014-05-09 09:30
South Africa voted and most of the vote has been tallied, showing few surprises. In fact the electoral map looks fairly similar to that after the 2009 election. There are one or two trends that have come through pretty strong as the News24 live results map was populated over the past two days.

Here are five quick conclusions we can draw thus far.

1. The ANC is mightily strong

Nkandla, the Guptas swallowing up South Africa's sovereignty, Marikana – nothing made a real dent in the African National Congress’ march to victory in this year’s elections.

The party is sitting at just under 63% nationally as things stand, with a lot of Gauteng still to come in.

Although that’s a drop of three or so points since 2009, ANC leadership can’t be too disappointed considering how much opposition parties have been able to slam President Zuma since, well, ever.  This is, again, the party South Africa wants to represent it.

2. The Democratic Alliance has had a pretty disappointing election

Let's start with good news, though. The DA held the Western Cape, and, as things stand, has significantly increased its plurality from 2009 into a majority. The party is also likely to become the official opposition in KwaZulu-Natal, an outcome the party saw forecast, according to a DA insider who had access to internal polls before Wednesday’s election. There was growth in the western parts of the Eastern Cape (more on that later) and the DA doesn’t look in terrible shape to make gains in the 2016 local elections.

However, nationally, the party is going to see percentage growth to well under 25%, and in fact at the time of writing sits at 22%.  Although that’s a gain from the 16.7% of 2009, it is a pretty soft showing for the official opposition. It also failed to drive the ANC portion of the vote significantly down. A three-point ANC drop is not something I would imagine DA leaders would have accepted six months ago.

The millions of randelas spent in Gauteng have forced a miniscule increase. If, as reported, the DA spent R100m in the province, that would work out to around R12.5m for each expected percentage point gained.

The Northern Cape became a dead zone again, and if the DA can’t compete in that province it is going to struggle mightily in the other seven.

There is opportunity for opposition parties in the Northern Cape: the NNP won 25% in 1999 and Cope 16% (along with the DA’s 13.08%) in 2009.

While the DA saw growth this time around, it wasn’t from the ANC. In fact the ANC grew too.

The ANC will retain fat majorities in all provinces except the Western Cape, and future historians will never notice the DA plugged so much money and effort into Gauteng.

3. Cope and the IFP are the elections’ biggest casualties

Times are hard for the Inkatha Freedom Party, which fell hard for the fifth election running. Not only is the ANC eating into its strongholds in Northern KwaZulu-Natal, the breakaway National Freedom Party headed up by Zanele Magwazi-Msibi is playing solidly in the same area.

In 1999 the IFP won 8.58%, in 2004 it dropped to 6.97%, in 2009 it further slipped to 4.55% and in this election it will be lucky to break 3% (currently sitting at 2.5%).

Cope was really stuffed this outing. Properly. 7.42% in 2009 cataclysmically fell to well below 1%. With nearly 94% of precincts reporting Cope is sitting on 0.69% with just over 100 000 votes. That is rubbish.

Agang SA was also a huge flop. Well, a very small flop. Although Mamphela Ramphele is sitting with a measly 0.26% of the vote, that should actually be enough to clinch her a seat in the National Assembly. One.

4. Imitation can lead to success

A party virtually no one has ever heard of (unless you’re a follower of changes in municipal boundaries), the African Independent Congress, was registered nationally and in the Eastern Cape, and secured enough votes to win a parliamentary seat. Here’s an explanation by City Press:

"The party's colours are also reminiscent of the ANC – black, yellow, green and white. And on this year's ballot papers, the AIC appeared just above the ANC. It is possible that some voters may have unintentionally voted for the AIC, thinking they were voting for the ANC.

"By 15:00, votes for the AIC stood at 51 939. But in its Eastern Cape stronghold, the party has so far gained only 12 617 votes. These figures don’t add up. In 2009 the AIC did not appear on the national ballot paper, only on that of the Eastern Cape, where the party gained 17 306 votes."

5. All is not lost for the DA

The DA should be far more interested in local government elections. Although a full general election is high-profile, the DA has made huge gains in local elections over the last few cycles, especially in the western Eastern Cape, the West Rand in Gauteng, and the Northern Cape.

Cope's crash and burn makes the Northern Cape hard to predict, and the Municipal Demarcation Board’s fiddling in Gauteng is trying to snuff out DA growth, but the Eastern Cape is actually a BFD.  

In the 2011 local government elections the DA held a majority of one seat in Baviaans, missing two other municipalities by one seat (Kou-Kamma and Kouga) and nearby Camdeboo by two. The ANC held onto its majority in Nelson Mandela Bay by the margin of a needle point, and right now it is sitting at 49.06% with a more favourable electorate. In Baviaans the ANC has 49.88% to the DA’s 46.39%, in Kou-Kamma the ANC is doing a little better at 58% and in Camdeboo it sits at 55.42%. In Kouga the DA actually leads the ANC 49.87% to 44.22%.

An off year electorate should swing all of these towards the DA. While doing well in smaller geographical areas doesn’t really help in national and provincial elections, it sure as hell does in local ones.
Read more on: elections 2014

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