ANC's project 'forgive me' pays off

2019-05-09 23:19
The last voter of the day casts his vote at the Ch
The last voter of the day casts his vote at the Christiaan de Wet School on May 8, 2019 in Sophiatown, on the outskirts of Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by WIKUS DE WET / AFP)

Both the two main opposition parties have fared dismally in this election. As things stand, the best case scenario for the DA is to walk away with exactly the same amount of support the party went into the elections with, writes Ralph Mathekga.

The 2019 general elections show that the ruling ANC's "forgive us" project has borne fruits. At the time of writing, with over 60% of votes counted, the ANC had attained roughly 56% of the national vote. As one senior ANC member remarked at the Results Operation Centre in Pretoria, "South Africans are a forgiving nation".

This perfectly explains the performance of the ANC in South Africa's most contested elections yet.

As far as I'm concerned, the ANC's drop in support from 62% to the mid-fifties was to be expected. President Cyril Ramaphosa has admitted that the ANC's performance in government in the last nine years was simply "wasted years". The party's chairperson, Gwede Mantashe, did his own calculations and concluded that "only four years of the Zuma years were a problem".

Therefore, by attaining just less than 60% of the votes, the ANC has indeed managed another stellar performance in the greater scheme of things. With this performance – given the party's penchants for corruption and insatiable appetite for helping itself to public resources – the ANC can look straight into the eyes of the opposition parties and say: I did this to myself, don't you dare claim credit! 

Both the two main opposition parties have fared dismally in this election. As things stand, the best case scenario for the DA is to walk away with exactly the same amount of support the party went into the elections with. The DA has failed to grow, despite a weakened ANC. I wonder who the DA blames for its failure to grow significantly in this election. Anything below 23% for the day is a disaster, and the party is now sitting at 22%.

Ironically, with the DA's failure to grow, Mmusi Maimane would have to account for the whole wasted four years of Zuma transgressions (if we go by Mantashe's calculations that Zuma's disaster only lasted four years). With this grim picture, the DA will most likely implode as the blame game begins regarding who is to blame for poor performance in the election. This is one area where the party cannot blame the ANC.

As for the EFF, the party should be happy with anything in the range of 10% of the vote. In fact, it appears to be on the way to reach the 10% mark. Due to its general lack of humility, the fighters might not be appreciative of this modest growth. According to the EFF's own projections, it was a government in waiting. That's fair! Why would any party concede to poor performance before the voting starts?

The EFF's growth might have inspired the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) to attain modest growth out of the two-percenter redline, sitting at 2.8%. But generally speaking, the performance of the three big parties has been very mediocre in this elections.

- Ralph Mathekga is a political analyst and author of When Zuma Goes and Ramaphosa's Turn.

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