Ipsos has published the outcomes of its final poll ahead of the 8 May election.
If seven in 10 voters turn out, then this (ANC 61%, DA 19%, EFF 11%, IFP 3%
and FF+ 1%) is the likely distribution of votes nationally – a voter turnout of about 70% tallies with how South Africans usually vote, says Ipsos director and pollster Mari Harris. In 1999, the voter turnout was 87.92%; in 2004, 75.52%; in 2009, 77.3% and in 2014, 73.4%.
But the official opposition DA says Ipsos undercounts its support and the party says its own figures and feedback from the ground show it can still beat its 2014 outcome when the party won 22.23% of the vote.
Here are the top five personalities who will shape the election results:
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa
Without Ramaphosa, the ANC outcome is likely to have been very different. In the 2016 local government election, the governing party took a drubbing that pushed it into opposition in three major South African cities.
If the ANC had not begun a path of reform under Ramaphosa, then it’s likely the party would not have even smelt 60% and struggled to achieve 50% of a national vote. Now, the ANC has run a campaign that has used its new president as a drawcard.
Ramaphosa is, by various measured surveys, the most popular and trusted of all South African politicians. He has been the key figure of the party’s campaign, which has been the toughest in its democratic era history. Ramaphosa is facing an internal fightback against his reform agenda which is bedevilling the final stages of the party’s campaign. It’s clear the ANC will win the election, which means Ramaphosa will be judged by the party holding Gauteng and by its majority in its stronghold provinces like the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane
Maimane got his campaign out of the blocks with a massive first launch in 2018 at the Mary Fitzgerald Square and then led a manifesto launch at Rand Stadium that dwarfed the other parties in verve. Both were held in Gauteng and he even moved the party headquarters to Bruma in Johannesburg as a symbol of the party’s ambition to win the province that is the electoral pot of gold. But the verve has given way to swerve as the party has moved its election platform from positive to negative.
Gauteng has the country’s highest number of registered voters and the party is struggling to get into pole position. Harris says a DA win is unlikely.
“I think the ANC will win Gauteng but not with a massive majority.”
DA election campaign manager Jonathan Moakes disagrees.
“Gauteng is (still) up for grabs. We are seeing great movement in the polls. More broadly, things are looking up for us. Our aim (in Gauteng) is to bring the ANC below 50%, (but that) depends on every DA voter turning out.”
Even in the Western Cape, the DA is fighting to hold a majority as the ANC has fought to get back support in a province long regarded as lost to the governing party. The party has also set its sight on being able to govern the Northern Cape in the coalition but the polls are unclear on how the biggest province with the smallest number of voters is planning to cast its ballot.
EFF leader Julius Malema
Julius Malema is shaping as the biggest winner of the election with polls suggesting the party will double its support from its 2014 maiden poll when it took six percent nationally.
The EFF is likely to get 11% or more and it has run a campaign that has seen it go toe-to-toe with the ANC and DA. The party mortgaged its property in Johannesburg to fund a fully national campaign and to hold rallies across the country: it’s paid dividends as the Ipsos poll shows the EFF could be the official opposition in three provinces.
In the Western Cape and in Gauteng, Malema could be kingmaker, giving him a position of even greater leverage than the period of deal-making after the 2016 local government when the EFF wins put it in a position to decide who would govern Johannesburg and Pretoria (Tshwane council).
DA Western Cape premier candidate Alan Winde
Will Alan Winde be South Africa’s only opposition party premier? It looks like the only province the DA is clear to win is the Western Cape and even that is not clear-cut. Either way, Winde is a shaper of the election campaign. A quiet campaigner, Winde is the only technocrat (as opposed to professional politician) personality of the 2019 Election campaign.
“It’s neck and neck in the Western Cape but we believe we are on track to retain the province,” Moakes told Daily Maverick on Monday, adding that there remained a “danger” of the Western Cape falling into a coalition between the ANC and the EFF. The two parties are flirting with each other like mad as the election campaign reaches its final push and the lines of power begin to clarify.
“The Western Cape is so split that I wouldn’t put my head on a block (about a result),” says Harris.
GOOD leader Patricia de Lille
After going to war with her former party, the DA, former Cape Town mayor launched her movement as a political party in December 2018. She launched the For Good movement a month before.
A single personality party, De Lille is one of Daily Maverick’s Top 5 characters of the campaign because her battle with the DA has shaped that party’s poll outcome. The DA is fighting as hard as it is for the Western Cape because its battle with De Lille has cost it votes.
The Good party has got posters and election material as feisty as its founder and this has seen the newcomer party make a mark. Harris says De Lille is good for electoral representation in the Western Cape, Gauteng and the Northern Cape as well as nationally. DM
"The sad truth is that most evil is done by people who never make up their minds to be good or evil." ~ Hannah Arendt