How will the votes sway?

2014-05-07 00:00

NKANDLA, Marikana, and the struggling economy are three of the most important issues on which the outcome of today’s election hinges.

Although the ANC is again assured of a large majority in today’s vote, a significant shift is expected in South Africa’s voting patterns.

Millions of black voters are expected to not vote for the ANC for the first time, instead making their cross for the EFF and DA.

This should leave the governing party worried about the elections in 2019. MARYNA LAMPRECHT, JAMES-BRENT STYAN and JAN DE LANGE examined the three issues.

Nkandla? What is it?

PRESIDENT Jacob Zuma is mostly correct when he said only the media and the opposition are “bothered” with Nkandla.

Despite endless reporting on the R246 million in taxpayers’ funds that were spent on Zuma’s private estate at Nkandla, experts agree that this scandal will not really have an impact on today’s voting results.

Director at market research company Ipsos, Mari Harris, said opinion polls showed voters are not bothered by Nkandla. In Gauteng the issue will however cost the ANC some votes because the black middle-class is informed and vote in reaction to issues affecting their pockets.

Political analyst Max du Preez described it as astounding and tragic that such a huge scandal would not have a noticeable impact on the voters. “I think Zuma and the ANC played Nkandla very well.

“The glue of nostalgia and ethnicity is still too strong — people will continue to vote for the parties where they feel at home.”

Where are all the jobs?

THE number of South Africans who live under the breadline has been reduced from 41% to 31% in the past 20 years, according to the World Bank.

Although South Africa’s economy has been growing since 1994, this growth was on average 3,3% per year, which is not fast enough to address poverty and inequality.

On the contrary, the past five years under President Zuma saw joblessness increase to a new high. One in three South Africans who can work, does not have a job.

DA leader Helen Zille said Zuma had promised five million job opportunities in 2009.

“Today there are 1,4 million more jobless people.”

What does DA support look like?

THE DA is mainly seen as a white party for white people. In 2009 it won about 1,6% of the black vote. Since then the party has focused on making an impact on black voters and two years later, during the 2011 municipal elections, analysis by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) showed the national black support for the DA had grown to six percent.

The DA today hopes to get 10% of the black vote. This could mean up to a million new votes for the DA. These voters will mainly be former ANC and Cope voters.

Should I vote or should I not?

JUST over 80% of the South Africans who are older than 18 have registered to vote and the IEC hopes more than 70% of them will make their cross today.

Although a turn-out of 70% is high in comparison to other elections in the world, the number of non-voters has grown considerably in South Africa since 1994, if all the eligible voters — including those who have not registered to vote — are taken into account.

In 1994 the turn-out was 85,5 % of all eligible voters. By 2009 the turn-out had shrunk to 56,6%.

Ipsos director Mari Harris said former minister Ronnie Kasrils’s ‘No Vote’ campaign would not have an impact on today’s turn-out, although many voters will not vote because they are disillusioned by the ANC and feel no other party offers a good alternative.

Did we learn from Marikana?

THE Marikana shooting was the most important event during Zuma’s tenure in the past five years.

It was the start of a foundational shift in SA’s labour market. Such a shift is a good indicator of a new political shift. A case in point is the 1922 miners’ strike, which led to an alliance between the mining unions and the former National Party under General J.B.M. Hertzog. This alliance formed the base for Afrikaner nationalism. The current miners’ strike in Rustenburg has now gone on for over three months. Politicians and analysts will be watching closely how the miners voted to see where the future may lead.

End near for micro parties?

OF the 26 parties that contested the 2009 election, 13 ended up in Parliament, where 400 seats were allocated to them on a proportional basis.

The African People’s Convention (APC) was the party that got into Parliament with the fewest votes.

The party won only one seat with 35 867 votes.

In total, some 250 000 ballots were cast for parties that did not qualify for a seat.

Freedom Front Plus leader Dr Pieter Mulder said more than 10 small parties will again go to Parliament this year.

Will Malema cause an upset?

THE militancy and charisma displayed by EFF leader Julius Malema made him an important newcomer in 2014’s political arena. Experts estimate the EFF will win between four and eight percent of the vote, about as much as Cope won in 2009.

Political analyst Daniel Silke said the EFF’s focus on a niche was a key point in the party’s success. “The EFF focuses on voters who feel they have been forgotten.”

Malema’s well-known face also ensured considerable media coverage and a successful election campaign despite a limited budget. The EFF gives disillusioned ANC members who want to stay away, an alternative.

Can Zuma lure Gauteng voters?

THE ANC will not lose Gauteng, but it will get a fright in this province.

Unhappiness with President Zuma, the Nkandla issue and e-tolls are the main issues that will reduce the ANC’s popularity with the province’s growing black middle-class. The party, which in 2009 won 64% of the votes in South Africa’s strongest provincial economy, may today still get more than 50% of the vote, but it will be a lot less than 2009.

If the ANC’s support continues to decrease in Gauteng, the ruling party will have to start thinking about a coalition partner in the future.

Voting day statistics

Polling stations opens at 7 am today. These are the voting day statistics:

• 25,39 million registered voters;

• 22 263 polling stations;

• 220 000 polling booths;

• 62 892 200 ballot papers;

• 500 tons of paper;

• 29 parties on the national ballot;

• 218 000 IEC officials;

• 580 000 normal pens;

• 58 000 permanent markers;

• 118 000 indelible ink pens;

• 116 000 rulers;

• 2,9 km sticky tape;

• 5,214 km demarcation tape;

• 2,9 tons of elastic;

• 11,7 tons of Prestik; and

• 3 million paper clips.

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