The Democratic Alliance plans to give the ruling ANC a serious black eye in the 2014 elections by winning up to 30% of the vote.
“We are aiming for 30%,” Lindiwe Mazibuko told AFP, the DA’s parliamentary leader and the woman tipped by many to one day lead the opposition.
“I suspect that we will get between 25 and 30 on a sunny day, and between 20 and 25 if it’s a particularly uphill battle,” she said, acknowledging a likely ANC victory.
At the 2009 elections the DA got 16% of the vote, but hit nearly 25% in 2011 local elections.
The ANC has swept all post-apartheid polls and won nearly two thirds of votes in the last national election.
But amid impatience about the stagnating economy and a series of scandals surrounding President Jacob Zuma, the DA smells blood.
Mazibuko expects the mighty African National Congress to bleed votes at the fifth all-race national polls since former president Nelson Mandela’s release.
“They’ll win the election but they will take a hammering,” predicted Mazibuko, pointing to ANC losses in the 2011 local polls.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if the ANC was pushed into the 50s in this election.”
“It became clear to us that there’s a vast number of South Africans who are utterly turned off by Jacob Zuma and I think the ANC must be picking up the same thing.”
But the DA faces its own challenges.
Despite Mazibuko’s high profile role, the party is seen as representing upper and middle class whites who are a minority.
And as of next week the DA may face its own electoral stalking horse, in the form of Mamphela Ramphele.
The former World Bank managing director and anti-apartheid activist is slated to make an announcement on her political future on Monday.
A new party has the potential to fragment non-ANC voters and draw those mulling a turn to the DA, but Ramphele may yet throw up opportunities for a broad-based coalition.
Mazibuko admits that has cast a haze over the political landscape.
“It’s very hard for me to predict now.”
“If you’d asked me six months ago, I would have said with some certainty that we’d get between 25 and 30 percent but I don’t know what the electoral landscape is going to look like,” she said.
In the party’s 2014 sight is the province of Gauteng – which includes Johannesburg and Pretoria – and the Northern Cape.
The Western Cape – including Cape Town – is DA-run and is the only province not held by the ANC.
The big aim is unseating the ANC in 2019 or 2024, likely in a coalition arrangement.
Mazibuko, at only 32 years of age, is candid about her future political ambitions after a meteoric rise through the opposition ranks.
“I do want to be president,” she said.
Observers say her head-butting has posed little threat to Zuma or the ANC so far, but it has put her firmly in firing line.
As number two to DA leader Helen Zille – who is white – she has been labelled a white madam’s tea girl.
The irritation she provokes is because she is a young black person “being cocky” to 70-year-old Zuma, said analyst Eusebius McKaiser.
“It’s chauvinism rooted in culture, it doesn’t have to do with the fears that Lindiwe’s going to knock off five percentage points.”
McKaiser believes that it’s possible for the DA win a quarter of votes next year and says that 30% would be a “huge win”.
But he advised the party to do some soul-searching, particularly around poor, black communities, and to “not pretend that we live in a colour-blind, equal opportunity society”.
“That’s the aspiration, that’s not the current reality and sometimes the DA confuses the DA future with the South African present.”