DA set for its best performance yet
Johannesburg - Early municipal election results on Thursday showed the opposition DA may be set for its best performance yet, while ruling party support seemed stable.
By noon, with 63% of the votes finalised nationally, the African National Congress stood at 63.36%, while the Democratic Alliance was on 22.67%, following South Africa's fourth post-apartheid local government elections on Wednesday.
In the last municipal elections in 2006, the ANC walked away with 64.8% of the vote, the DA with 16% and the Inkatha Freedom Party with 7.6%.
In 2000, the ANC garnered 59% of the local vote, the DA 22% and the IFP 9%.
"So far it's been great," DA leader Helen Zille told reporters in Pretoria on Thursday.
Zille's dance moves
"If I can get this result from dancing, I will do it again for the next election," she added, referring to criticism by her political rivals of her dancing moves during electioneering.
Her party remained in control in Midvaal, south of Johannesburg, the only Gauteng municipality led by the DA.
By 13:00 the DA had garnered 60.71% of the Midvaal votes and the ANC, which had vigorously campaigned in the largely rural area to win the municipality back, got 37.17%.
ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe said the ruling party was "very disappointed" about this.
"The ANC must work harder, we are not doing well in the minority areas," Mantashe said at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) results centre in Pretoria.
"We are sorry we didn't take it [Midvaal]... we really wanted it."
He said the ANC needed to "invest more time" in areas such as Eldorado Park, southern Johannesburg, which had "shifted" its vote.
But overall, the ANC had 1.8 million votes (61.99%) in Gauteng by noon on Thursday, with the DA on 950 801 (31.82%). The Congress of the People had 1.13% (33 854 votes). Gauteng's voter turnout seemed low, with only 1.3 million of the registered 5.5 million people casting their votes.
Nationally, the IEC said on Wednesday it hoped for a 40% turnout, compared to 48% in the last two elections.
In the hotly-contested Cape Town, it was too early for the DA to claim a landslide victory, Mantashe said. According to initial results the ANC had improved its support in the Western Cape, in areas such as Mitchells Plain.
However, the DA did seem set for a sure win. By noon, the DA had 78.94% support in Cape Town while the ANC lagged behind at 16.38%.
But the ruling party seemed to be keeping its grip on Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape, two areas where some believed the DA could give it a run for its money.
By midday, the ANC in Tshwane was standing on 59.59% and the DA on 34.31%, after more than a million people voted in the municipal area. The African Christian Democratic Party was in third place in Tshwane.
In Nelson Mandela Bay, the ANC won 51.5% of the votes, the DA 40.24% and Cope 4.93% by 13:00.
In KwaZulu-Natal, the three-month-old breakaway National Freedom Party surprised many, and by midday, it had secured 2.47% of the vote nationally, compared to the IFP's 3.77%.
"We didn't expect this at all. This party is still at infancy," said NFP party convenor Evans Sosibo. "We are very happy because this sets a solid foundation for us in the 2014 election."
The Congress of the People, which was marred by in-fighting in the run-up to elections, was standing on 2.71% nationally.
Perhaps the biggest loser was the Dagga Party, which managed to secure some 200 votes, but that translates into zero percent of the national vote.