An Ipsos poll out on Tuesday suggests that if elections were held in the period the poll was taken, the EFF would be the official opposition in three provinces.
The start-up party would be the official opposition in Gauteng, where one in three EFF supporters live, and is also ramping up support in Limpopo and North West.
In North West and Limpopo, the key battle is likely to be between the DA and the EFF to become the official opposition in those two provinces.
Assuming a medium-sized turnout of voters on 8 May, Ipsos predicts the ANC will get 61% of the vote, the DA 18% and the EFF 10%. Recent elections in South Africa generally see a medium-sized turnout, says Ipsos director and one of the country’s leading pollsters, Mari Harris.
But, here’s what should worry us all more. The number of alienated voters is at its highest ever if you add the numbers of registered voters to the numbers who say they do not intend to vote and compare these with the latest population statistics.
“More than 10 million South Africans are eligible to vote, but are not registered to do so,” says Harris. “This feeling of alienation is growing. People do not trust in politics or politicians. (They tell us) that politicians say a lot of things but do not deliver.”
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) says there are 26.7-million South Africans registered to vote – according to Statistics South Africa, about one-third of the population of 57.7-million people is younger than 15 and therefore ineligible to vote.
So, it’s clear that a large number of South Africans did not register to vote and can be said to be alienated voters. The highest number of these are young people.
“It looks like only half of South Africans between 18 and 30 years old are registered to vote,” says Harris.
Ipsos runs the country’s largest poll of 3,600 respondents weighted for population and geographic spread. The poll is face-to-face, unlike others which are mobile-phone based and therefore less reliable. Respondents have to show an ID card or book to prove veracity.
Of those registered, Ipsos believes that there are probably eight to nine million South Africans who won’t turn out to vote. Why is this?
“Some are not interested in politics and they are not sure who they will vote for; 37% of those polled say there is no political party that is expressing their views. The history of identifying with a political party and having a strong bond (with that party) is no longer there,” says Harris.
That loss of the political bond impacts the ANC most. While President Cyril Ramaphosa has lifted the party’s fortunes to 61% in the latest poll, the controversy over forces of capture on the party’s lists as well as extended power cuts may bring the figure down.
Harris says while the DA is polling at 18% (which is roughly four percentage points below its 22.2% outcome in 2014), its fortunes are likely to improve between now and the election in May.
The DA says Ipsos does not accurately reflect its own view of where it will end up. That said, the big poll is showing that the DA is unlikely to achieve its key electoral ambition: to become the governing party in three provinces.
The ANC is likely to hold on to Gauteng where the EFF is likely to put up a strong showing. The red berets are very popular in the powerhouse province where the highest numbers of voters live – almost one in three registered voters call Gauteng home.
Most DA voters live in the Western Cape and in Gauteng, so the party has to run last-leg campaigns of equal strength in both provinces to maintain its 2014 result.
“The DA may not achieve an outright victory in the Western Cape,” predicts Harris. The ANC has strong support in the rural areas of the Western Cape, the poll suggests, and the DA did itself no favours by internal fights which saw it lose focus. She also says it is unlikely that the party will win the Northern Cape.
Patricia de Lille, the party’s former mayor with whom it staged an almost two-year-long battle, is showing support in the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Gauteng, largely among coloured voters. There are now more coloured than white people in South Africa. De Lille is not campaigning for the coloured vote, but on a good governance ticket through her party called Good.
The ANC’s fortunes are being lifted by one factor and that is its president and country president, Cyril Ramaphosa.
“He is the most popular politician in the country by far,” says Harris.
Ramaphosa notches up a favourability ranking of 6.71 out of 10 followed by DA leader Mmusi Maimane at 3.72/10, and Julius Malema at 3.46/10. The Minister of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, is less visible but more popular than the two opposition leaders: she measured at 4.28/10 in the rankings.
“Ramaphosa is carrying the election for the ANC. He has built its credibility,” says Harris. DM