South Africa


Western Cape: After a safe 59% win five years ago, DA now feels the pressure

Opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) supporters attend the parties last campaign rally in the Western Cape in Cape Town, South Africa, 01 May 2019. EPA-EFE/NIC BOTHMA

In the 2014 election, the DA secured 59% of the vote in the Western Cape. That earned the party 26 of the 42 seats in the provincial legislature and control of the province, but a lot has changed since then.

With less than a week until South Africans head to the polls on 8 May, the Western Cape looks to be one of the key battleground areas in the country. A recent poll projected the DA would earn less than 50% of the vote, but DA Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela told Daily Maverick his party is confident it will retain its outright majority in the Western Cape.

In the Western Cape I can assure you that the DA will get an outright majority,” he said. “We will certainly make sure that all the DA voters go out and certainly get more than 51%. There’s not even a possibility of considering a coalition.”

An Institute for Race Relations poll released on Tuesday pegged the DA in the Western Cape at 44.6%, the ANC at 27.8%, the African Christian Democratic Party at 7% and the EFF at 6.8%. A number of other parties could also factor in, including the Freedom Front Plus and GOOD.

In 2014, the DA earned 59.38% of the vote, while the ANC trailed far behind at 32.89%. The EFF finished at 2.1%, while the ACDP finished at just over 1%.

GOOD — a new party formed by former Cape Town Mayor and DA member Patricia de Lille — could act as a disruptor and potential kingmaker in the Western Cape. De Lille is currently locked in a legal battle with the DA regarding her departure from the party, and would be unlikely to work with them. De Lille told Daily Maverick she’s targeting voters who are disillusioned with the current ruling parties.

We have been asking people to please lend us their vote, just for five years,” she said. “Look at the plan for South Africa that we’ve got, lend a vote to us for five years, and if after five years, if we have not kept to the commitment in our plan, then you take your vote away to another political party.”

But while De Lille remains a popular figure in the Western Cape, it’s unclear how much support she’ll be able to take from her former party. GOOD was launched in December, and thus has had very little time to build support before the elections.

Another party that could be on the rise in the province is the ACDP. In 2014, the party earned just over 1% of the vote but has seen strong growth in polls. ACDP Western Cape premier candidate Ferlon Christians said the ACDP is expecting to win an outright majority in the Western Cape, despite a huge margin in the polls. The party is targeting a 65% margin, and Christians said 51% would be a “bad day” for the ACDP.

Christians said he does not believe the numbers in recent polls, and said the ACDP is “not even thinking” about potential coalitions because it expects to win a majority.

The ACDP supporters over all these years have never said that ‘we will vote ACDP,’” he said. “That’s why I believe most of our people that are going to vote ACDP that voted ANC and DA before, they will not say who they’re gonna vote for.”

Other parties are expecting major gains in the province, but not to the extent of winning an outright majority. The ANC, which earned just 32.89% of the vote in 2014, could be poised for a jump.

ANC Western Cape election head Ebrahim Rasool said last week that internal polling puts the ANC at 38% in the province, but that he wanted to push further.

Had you asked me 10 months ago, would you take 38%? I would gladly have said yes. But now that we’re touching it, we are hungrier for more. And we are in grasp of something magnificent, especially if the fallout of the DA continues.”

Rasool took issue with DA posters that read “stop the ANC and EFF”. The DA and EFF are in coalition in Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane, while the ANC is currently not in any coalitions with the EFF.

Meanwhile, EFF leader Julius Malema said on 23 April that he would consider forming coalitions with the ANC, but not the DA.

DA is a racist organisation that never appreciates the effort of black people,” Malema said. “Even when you give them your support, they still call you names. I mean, I’m not saying the DA must agree with us, but you must have a decency of saying we’ve got some form of an arrangement with these guys.”

Madikizela said he views a coalition between the ANC and EFF as a genuine possibility, and referred to the fact that both parties have endorsed a policy of land expropriation without compensation.

FF+ leader Pieter Groenewald told Daily Maverick he’s looking for four to five percent of the vote in the Western Cape, and could look at a range of possible coalitions.

We will not go into a coalition with the EFF or something like that, but we will keep our options open,” he said. “The DA has to learn to know how coalitions work. They can’t just think that they can say what they want to in election time and everything and just expect that after that everybody must be smiling towards them. So it’s not as simple as that.”

Overall, the one uniting theme might be that everyone is urging South Africans to vote on 8 May.

If you do not go and vote on election day, then after the elections you cannot go and complain,” De Lille said. “Because then you deserve what you get.” DM