Numbers game: ANC, DA hold onto high hopes following internal polling

2019-04-06 11:28


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The DA still believes it’s on track to reducing the ANC's dominance to below 60% while the current governing party claims to already be polling well above the 60% mark.

The two parties spoke to News24 with just a few weeks remaining before South Africans take to the polls to determine who they would like to see in charge of the country after May 8.

While the ANC continues to enjoy support from majority in the country, it has been on a steady decline since the 2014 elections. This also culminated in the party losing key metros in the 2016 local government elections.

The ANC also finds itself being less popular than its current leader Cyril Ramaphosa and having to work even harder to retain the Gauteng province, which is the country's economic hub.

Ipsos poll

Only Ipsos has polled the ANC above 60%, with its most recent study in March indicating that six out every 10 voters are likely to throw their weight behind the current governing party.

The same poll gave DA 18% of the votes, while positioning the EFF in third place at 10%.

Another popular poll from the Institute of Race Relations, which was conducted in February showed the ANC taking a considerable knock and only gaining 54.7%, while the DA polls at 21.8% and the EFF at 12.2%.

READ: ANC could win 60% of votes in May 8 election, new poll suggests

Many in the ANC agree with the Ipsos results, but some have told News24 the party is hovering closer to 65%. Other party insiders  say its merely the party's wishes to see the ANC at around 65% and higher once South Africans vote.

The DA’s campaign manager Jonathan Moakes has refuted the idea of the ANC achieving anything above 60% at national level. He bases this on the polling the main opposition party has been conducting, frequently on its own.

“The ANC is putting out false information, our own internal trends show that it is certainly below 60%,” said Moakes.

Moakes, who refused share details of how the DA was polling ahead of the elections, said things were looking positive for the party, with its plans to retain the Western Cape and to reduce the ANC’s hold of Gauteng and in the Northern Cape firmly on track.

Gauteng battleground

Gauteng, which is the country’s economic hub is expected to be the battleground for these elections, with most parties hoping to get a significant share from voters, with the ANC in the province saying its “doing its best” to win back lost voters.

A quick sit down with the party’s Gauteng head of elections Lebogang Maile at the side-lines of a government programme, where the provincial government was unveiling an In2Food factory and launching a jewellery manufacturing and agro-processing hub in Ekurhuleni, reveals that the ANC is still operating on internal research received at the end of January, with the latest and final batch expected around the Easter period.

Maile told News24 that beyond the research, which showed the party at 58% in the province, the ANC’s campaigns and messaging it’s been sending out is enough to give it a solid win come May 8.

“We are responsive to people’s problems, we’ve been to their houses, to their churches, to different sectors of society, have had sectorial engagements,” said Maile.

The ANC at national level has also taken a decision to bolster the party in the province, which has seen its Top 6 officials crisscrossing parts of Gauteng and leaders such as President Cyril Ramaphosa even testing out how the trains have been operating.

WATCH: Three hour train delay for Ramaphosa during ANC election campaigning

The DA’s Moakes again disagrees with the idea of the ANC getting anything above 50% in Gauteng.

“DA has seen incredible growth, potential and momentum,” said Moakes.

“When it comes to the voters of Gauteng I think there is a very, very good chance of bringing the ANC below 50% and competing quite competitively for the government of this province,” he continued.

Feel on the ground

Maile told News24 they have seen the ANC gaining traction within Indian, coloured and even white communities, which he says now openly and warmly receive its members when they campaign in those areas.

He said while in 2016 the ANC polled at 20% within the Indian community, he believes it is now likely to have increased to 45%, from 20% in the coloured community to around 45% and within the white community, he says indications are that the ANC has moved from 3% in 2016 to possibly 8 or even 10% ahead of these elections.

“On the ground you are able to experience reality, to separate reality from fiction. If you listened to analysts you may think ANC has lost Gauteng until you go on the ground,” he said.

When it comes to a profile of its voters, Maile confirms that the ANC could do better with young people, with trends constantly showing its continuing to enjoy support from older women, who are mostly from a rural background.

Leaders in the running

The ANC’s results have also placed Ramaphosa well ahead of the party, with the national head of elections Fikile Mbalula saying this was the case with former president Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki. The DA seems to have a similar issue with its national leader Mmusi Maimane said to be polling slightly ahead of the party.

When Moakes is asked about this, he says the answer to this lies outside of the polls.

“You don’t just look at polling, also the organic turn out on the ground to events. Mmusi Maimane is popular in the party and is popular amongst people considering voting for the DA,” he said.

There have also been murmurs of coalition talks already being under way in some provinces, which both the ANC and DA have denied. Maile claims the ANC in Gauteng is so confident it's not bothered with polls but that if it fails to get an outright majority it would rather occupy opposition benches than seek a way to stay in government.

“Coalitions don’t work,” he simply said.

No polls for the EFF

While the two biggest parties grapple with the numbers and tries to work on addressing issues that impact voters, the third largest party, the EFF, couldn’t be bothered.

Its secretary general Godrich Gardee told News24 the EFF does not engage in polling.

He said having a research unit that conducts polling for a political party, whether internal or outsourced, was an exercise that came at a great cost.

“We cannot afford it, we don’t have it and we don’t care if people are cold or warm,” said Gardee.

“We go to every house, every door whether its Songezo Mjongile or Tony Yengeni, we go [from] house-to-house, door-to-door. The only issues we have are locked gates and dogs,” he continued, referring to the two ANC leaders.

The EFF secretary general, in emphasising his earlier point that the party does not poll itself or other parties, said they had millions on the ground conducting door-to-door campaigns.

“When you do door-to-door you get a feel of whether you are proper or not,” he said.

“What is important is that the message has gotten out,” added Gardee.

Gardee, in reaction to the party members who are often seen at traffic lights handing out flyers, said he didn’t agree with the tactic, as it's usually the last thing parties do before elections to get rid of the electioneering material.

ALSO READ: Unlocking the middle class how the ANC plans to campaign in SA's suburbs and gated communities

Read more on:    anc.da  |  eff  |  elections 2019  |  politics

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