South Africa

SA votes: the early conclusions

By Simon Allison 8 May 2014

With half the districts reporting in, and around 30% of the total vote have been counted. SIMON ALLISON looks at who’s happy and who’s not in the IEC results operations centre in Pretoria.

So far, so good for the ANC

No wonder Gwede Mantashe is wondering round the IEC results operation centre (ROC) with a big grin on his face, and Jackson Mthembu is giving gracious media interviews acknowledging that actually, not everybody has to love JZ. The early results are looking good for the ruling party, so the ANC bigwigs can afford to be magnanimous. Sure, their steady decline in popularity has continued – from their two thirds majority in 2004, to 65.9% last time round, and now hovering around 63.7%. But some decline was inevitable. Zuma and friends can handle losing a few percentage points. Any more than that – if, for instance, support dipped below the 60% mark – then this might have prompted some soul-searching. This result, presuming it doesn’t change much, is an endorsement of business as usual for the ANC.

Less pleasing are the ANC’s provisional results from the Western Cape. Here the ANC isn’t just losing – it is getting walloped, with nearly two DA votes to every one ANC vote. The ANC in the Western Cape needs to get its house in order, and quickly.

Agang SA is the biggest loser

A total of 50,000 votes are required for a party to get a representative in parliament. The EFF raced over that landmark, and now has 468,673 votes. Agang SA, meanwhile, remains stuck in the mid-teens, with just 19,512 votes at the time of writing. This makes Agang a small party even as compared to other small parties – it’s support is currently well behind that of FF+, ACDP, COPE, NFP, and AIC.

It’s now looking increasingly unlikely that parliament will be treated to Mamphela Ramphele’s particular strain of narcissistic firebrand politics. The good doctor was prowling the floors at the ROC through last night and into the early hours of this morning, but as the Agang SA vote count stubbornly refused to change she has become a lot more difficult to track down. Adding salt to the wound, rumour has it that investigator Paul O’Sullivan – after Ramphele Agang’s highest-profile candidate – has resigned from the party.

Gauteng is still very much in the balance

In Gauteng, it’s too early for any conclusions. Just 18% of the vote has been counted (compared to 79% in the Western Cape). While the ANC has a healthy lead – 381,103 votes to the DA’s 181,469 – this can and will change, one way or the other. Don’t discount Mmusi Maimane’s bid for the premier’s position just yet.

South Africans really like to vote

Turnout in districts counted so far stands at 72.61% of registered voters, and the IEC is expecting this figure to grow as the votes from large urban areas are included. South Africans, give yourselves a well-deserved pat on the back – this is a very good turnout for a young democracy. Barack Obama was elected in the USA with a voter turnout of only 57.5%, and that was the highest in the USA since 1968.

Our enthusiasm for voting has diminished a little, however, since those heady post-apartheid days. In 1994, it was 86.87%, and 89.3% in 1999.

The DA has a good story to tell

We keep mocking Helen Zille for talking to and about her “Blue People”, but it might be time to stop because there seem to be an awful lot of them. Right now, they’ve got 21.63% of the national vote – and there’s still most of Gauteng to be counted. This is a huge gain from 2004, when they received 16.66% of the total, and it’s almost double their haul in 2004, at 12.37%. Although the party will be disappointed if they don’t take Gauteng, they can take heart from another good performance in the Western Cape, and a very strong performance nationally.

Also, the results should lay to rest the charge that the DA is just a ‘white party’. South Africa’s white population makes up under 10% of the total citizenry. If the DA goes on to capture 23% of the total vote, it shows beyond all doubt that more than half its support base is non-white.

Meet the African Independent Congress, the party that no one saw coming

Winning a seat in parliament with 54,575 votes is the completely unheralded African Independent Congress. So far, they are ahead of established heavyweights like the PAC and ACDP, and they are way ahead of Agang. Who are they? “It was our strategy to go under the radar,” said national spokesperson Aubrey Mhlongo, “because then the other parties wouldn’t see us coming.” He said the party is delighted with their performance, although they’re secretly hoping they’ll get enough votes to steal two seats in parliament. Their main support base is in the Eastern Cape, but they also benefit from their location on the ballot paper. Positioned just above the ANC, and sharing the same colours and a similar acronym, they probably were the beneficiaries of more than a few instances of mistaken identity.

Julius is going to parliament

The people have spoken. South Africa’s favourite giant red teletubbie (to quote Poplak) is back in business. Cape Town, brace yourself. DM

Photo: ANC leaders Andries Nel, Mzwandile Masina, Aaron Motsoaledi and Malusi Gigaba all look at their mobile devices for updates on election results. (Photo Greg Nicolson)

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