The ANC is on track for a slim victory of between 53% and 56% of the Gauteng vote, says pollster Professor David Everatt, who predicted the party would lose big metros within the province ahead of the 2016 local government election.
The DA, in turn, says the province is still up for grabs and that it is making steady gains to meet its goal of being the largest party in the province after voting stations close on Wednesday night.
Winning Gauteng has been the centrepiece of the DA’s campaign and it moved its party headquarters from Cape Town to Johannesburg to do so. The tiny province packs a punch in people and money might. It is an important symbolic centre of power.
Gauteng has 6.3 million registered voters, the highest provincial vote and an important contributor to parties’ final vote tally.
As the election campaign sun sets in the province this weekend, the three leading parties will fight for final votes here. Gauteng still has a high number of floating or undecided voters. In total population, there are 15 million people who call it home.
“It’s a remarkable and pulsating place. Gauteng has the largest economy in Africa and contributes 10% to African GDP and 41% of South Africa’s GDP,” says Everatt, who is head of school at the Wits School of Governance and who previously headed the Gauteng City Region Observatory.
Undoubtedly, Gauteng is the powerhouse province, but it’s also the province with the lowest voter registration of 67.1% of the 9.5 million eligible voters. The ANC Gauteng survey measures a sample of 3,200 people in face-to-face interviews. The same method showed the party that it was on track to lose the two major cities in the province – Johannesburg and Tshwane – which fell to a DA-led coalition government in the watershed 2016 elections, Everatt told Daily Maverick.
It has been a long climb out of the doldrums for the ANC in the province, his researchers found. The reason for the relatively low levels of voter registration may relate to the view of 67% of ANC supporters polled who said the party had disappointed them and of the 59% who said the party was soft on corruption.
Everatt has found the ANC has the support of 56% of the black middle class which researchers classify as people who earn R11,000 or more per month and 63% of the total surveyed.
Gauteng is, of course, home to the largest proportion of black middle-class South Africans and the ANC has won back a proportion of this cohort who were turned off by the decade of state capture represented by the administration of former President Jacob Zuma.
“The ANC is confident we will retain the province through an overwhelming victory,” said ANC campaign manager for Gauteng Lebogang Maile. “The disappointment of voters is something we have to tackle. The ANC has to self-correct.” Together, the Western Cape and Gauteng comprise 60% of DA voters, says Ipsos director Mari Harris while one in three EFF supporters also call Gauteng home.
The DA’s campaign manager, Jonathan Moakes, told the Daily Maverick many polls “significantly undercount” DA support and he says that the party’s internal campaign data based on its own campaigning and research differs substantially.
This is because black DA members often do not reveal their choice except at the ballot box. “As in the past, many undecided voters and ‘won’t say’ (people who won’t say who they support) are DA voters,” says Moakes, who adds that “Gauteng is still up for grabs”. DM