ANALYSIS: How the 'thuma mina' effect could finally come into play

2019-05-08 20:04
DA leader Mmusi Maimane addressing supporters in Soweto. ~ Twitter/@Our-DA

With voting stations now closed, it is a matter of hours and days before the results will reflect who the people of South Africa have chosen to govern at provincial and national levels.

With turnout again being the buzz word of this year's elections, particular focus has been placed on voters in the suburbs and whether and how residents there decided to vote. Have they been "thuma mina'd"? Will they stick with the DA? Or will they give the EFF a chance to keep the ANC on their toes?

Political analyst Ralph Mathekga says what is especially interesting about this year's elections is that no party is certain. Everyone is panicking about turnout.

"Usually, in previous elections, it was the ANC that suffered a lot from low turnout. Of course, it's the party in government and it's being assessed against its own performance, so that makes sense. But now, even the DA is worried about turnout," Mathekga says.

"Where the DA could previously bank on support in the suburbs, it has become a mixed game. The EFF is exciting some of the middle class radicals in the suburbs who will vote for them not because they want the party to be in power, but because it's eating at the ANC support.

"Then there's also the 'thuma mina' people in the suburbs who might want to give Cyril Ramaphosa a chance. It will be very interesting to see how the Ramaphosa factor affects turnout in the suburbs."

News24 analyst Dawie Scholtz, who has been running a #turnouttracker project on social media, says it's too early to say decisively how turnout will affect the outcome, as there seems to have been a lot of variety in the turnout patterns.

"There was quite a hard push early this morning in suburban areas with a lot of early turnout. Then there was a little bit of a lull and by 16:00 to 17:00, turnout was coming in a bit lower than expected," Scholtz says. "This has made DA and ANC nervous.

"If there's low turnout in the townships, it will affect the ANC. If it's in the suburbs, the DA will feel it."

Rumours of panic among parties were fuelled on Wednesday night, when the DA started sending text messages saying that the Western Cape is "too close to call", urging people to vote.

"Anecdotally I don't know why the DA is worried about the historically white areas in the Western Cape. I'm not sure why they're panicking," says Melanie Verwoerd, former ANC MP and political analyst.

"The big issue for them is what's happening in the Cape Flats and in the historically coloured areas. The coloured vote makes up approximately 48% of all registered voters in the Western Cape. Before De Lille joined the DA, their support was on 50% in the Cape Flats. After she joined it was on 66%. The mere fact that she is not with the DA anymore, might mean we could see a big stay away vote which will affect them severely."

Overall, Verwoerd says the DA campaign has been driven by fear, with its posters urging people to "keep the ANC and EFF out" of the Western Cape.

"On the positive side, we've seen a very disciplined campaign. Aside from the service delivery protests we had today, we've seen almost zero violence in the campaign. That's a good thing. That's hopefully also a sign that our democracy is maturing."

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