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Analysis: A main-event fight looms in Nelson Mandela Bay

Analysis: A main-event fight looms in Nelson Mandela Bay

Of course, major contests in the 2011 local government election will go to the wire in Cape Town and Johannesburg, but the main event will be what happens in Port Elizabeth – especially with the metropolitan area named after ANC icon, Nelson Mandela. Citydex's THATO MOLEWA analyses the swings and roundabouts.

Despite South Africans going to the polls tomorrow, there is still no clear front-runner in the ANC-led Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality (Port Elizabeth). The DA has identified the metro as its next target after snatching Cape Town from the ANC through a coalition government in 2006 municipal elections.

In the 2006 elections the ANC won the NMB metro outright with 81 out of 120 council seats (67%). The ANC at this point was at its peak support and opposition party numbers were on the decline. The DA only managed 30 seats (25%). Other parties that contested the elections only managed 8% with the ID and UDM taking 3% and 2% respectively.

But since then, the ANC has seen its support dwindle due to infighting and lack of service delivery. The birth of Cope did not help either. If the numbers of the 2009 national elections are anything to go by, the ANC should be having sleepless nights. Then Cope snatched 17% from the ANC, which saw its support fall to 50%. The DA’s share increased to 29% of the vote (including the ID). The municipality bucked the trend seen in other metros, where Cope took a large chunk from both the ANC and the DA. In the 2009 provincial vote 96% was shared between the ANC, DA and Cope.

The ANC and DA both saw increases in their voting numbers in 2009 (compared with 2006), but the ANC only increased its numbers by 17% (from 190,000 to 224,000) while the DA’s share rose by 84% (from 69,000 to 127,000). Cope received 78,000 votes.

Comparing municipal and national elections data is like comparing rather Granny Smith apples to Golden Delicious, and some general assumptions need to be made.

We will assume voters will most likely vote for the same party they did in 2009, although we expect a large share of former Cope voters to abstain this time. If the disgruntled ANC voters stay away as predicted by some political analysts and receive 5% to 10% fewer votes, this will reduce the ANC’s vote tally. However, the lower turnout for Cope makes the overall pie shrink further.

The DA could improve on its 2009 share and has been campaigning heavily in the area, but there is a good chance that no one party will gain 50% of the vote. The likes of UDM and Azapo could play a vital role on who governs the municipality, as could the handful of independent candidates running, because the possible DA/Cope coalition may fall well short of 50%.

There have been murmurs about a “gentleman’s agreement” between the DA and Cope. DA mayoral candidate Leon de Villiers said, “As far as Cope leader Smuts Ngonyama is concerned, we think he’s a very credible leader and we sincerely hope that Cope will do its share. In terms of councillor Wayile, we believe the time has come for change. It’s time for him to bring good governance to this metro.” Which some people might see it as an endorsement for Smuts to take the top post in the coalition. The Freedom Front Plus leader came out saying the only way for opposition parties to really make a difference is to form coalitions. Will this be the story in the metro? Or will the ANC manage to cut a deal and stay in power? Or will it win outright? DM

Citydex’s predictions

The ANC won 43 wards to the DA’s 17 in 2006, but there were many marginal results. As many as 16 of the 60 wards are potential swing votes based on historical numbers. Eleven of these swing wards were won by the ANC and five are wards won by the DA. In two of these cases, the margin of victory was less than 100 votes. In the DA’s wildest dreams, if it won all the swing wards it could reduce the score to 32 – 28, which is almost parity. Throw in a couple of major upsets and we can see why the DA has been entertaining fantasies of winning.

ANC:      61 seats (51%)

DA:      43 seats (36%)

Cope:       9 seats (8%)

PAC:      1 seat (1%)

UDM:       1 seat (1%)

Independents / small parties:    5 seats (3%)

Photo: Port Elizabeth (Photo by Exfordy)


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