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Changing of the guard? Small parties snap at DA’s heels in Western Cape

Changing of the guard? Small parties snap at DA’s heels in Western Cape
Illustrative image, from left: Al Jama-Ah; Patriotic Alliance; ANC; DA. (Photos: Wikimedia | Facebook | X)

Opposition parties Al Jama-ah and the Patriotic Alliance want the DA removed from power in the Western Cape and are willing to work with the ANC to this end. However, to stand a chance, they need support for the DA to plummet while their share of the vote increases dramatically.

If by-election trends are anything to go by, the DA is likely to undergo a decline in the Western Cape in the 2024 provincial elections, according to independent election analyst Wayne Sussman.

The party won 51.46% of the vote in 2009, which rose to 59.38% in 2014 and dropped to 55.45% in 2019. An Ipsos poll from October 2023 put the DA’s support in the upcoming elections at only 44% and suggested there was a possibility of a coalition government in the province.

“If you look at the by-election results, you see that the DA has been losing ground in areas like George and also in parts of Cape Winelands, which includes Paarl and Malmesbury, and these are relatively high-population areas.

“There are very few by-elections in the City of Cape Town, where 60% of their voters are. If you look at that, then the DA could fall under 50%, but there is little data from the Cape Flats,” Sussman said.

Al Jama-ah and the Patriotic Alliance would have to experience significant growth to pose a challenge to the DA, but Sussman said Al Jama-ah could gain more seats in the Western Cape legislature.

“If there is a part of the country that Al Jama-ah can grow it’s more likely to be Cape Town than Johannesburg,” he said.

“Al Jama-ah should hope to attract religious conservative voters in the Muslim community, who are upset with the DA and ANC.”

He said the ANC was unlikely to generate significant growth in the province and should hedge its bets on working with smaller parties if the DA does lose its majority.

“It is going to be hard for the ANC to grow; the interesting part will be their premier candidate [who hasn’t been announced] and that could help the party. It will be interesting to see how they do among their traditional base of black Xhosa voters in the Western Cape. 

“Generally, the ANC works better with parties like Al Jama-ah and Good than they have with the EFF and PA. The ANC is more unpopular than the DA in the Western Cape, but they might grow in parts of Athlone and the City Bowl. It is unlikely for the ANC to shoot the lights out in the Western Cape,” he said.


In the 2019 elections, the ANC received 28.63% in the province, while the PA and Al Jama-ah each got under 1%.

DA confident

According to current IEC registration statistics, 3.3 million people have registered to vote in the Western Cape, with Cape Town accounting for the majority, just over two million, followed by George and Stellenbosch with just over 100,000 registered voters each. The final number of registered voters will be released on 12 March.

The DA governs 20 of the 25 municipalities in the province and while the emergence of smaller parties might cause unease, with Sussman saying the 2024 elections are likely to be more competitive than previous polls, the DA still has a strong chance of retaining the Western Cape.

da western cape

DA Western Cape provincial leader Tertuis Simmers. (Photo: Aisha Abdool Karim)

DA provincial leader Tertuis Simmers said the party was not threatened by new political parties and the DA’s track record spoke for itself.

“With the lowest unemployment rate in the country, with a dedicated safety plan that is showing excellent results in crime-ridden areas, and with a R7-billion plan to end load shedding in the province, the DA-run Western Cape outperforms ANC governments, where lack of service delivery and corruption destroys the rest of South Africa. Voters want a government that works.

“The DA is the only party in the province with a proven track record of clean governance and service delivery. You have a better chance of finding work where the DA governs. Your communities are safer where the DA governs and you experience less load shedding where the DA governs. These are things voters care about, and this will determine their choice at the ballot box,” he said.

Al Jama-ah to court ANC

Al Jama-ah leader Ganief Hendricks is arranging a meeting with the ANC leadership to discuss coalitions.

“We want to take the Western Cape from the DA because they want it to be separate from the country. So we have to work together [with the ANC], like we work in Joburg so that we remove the DA.”

western cape ganief hendricks

Al Jama-ah leader Ganief Hendricks. (Photo: Gallo Images / Ziyaad Douglas)

However, what the party will put forward during discussions is the tricky part. Hendricks believes he can broker a deal with the ANC in which governing party supporters in the province will be asked to vote for Al Jama-ah.

The party, which has only one seat in the provincial legislature, wants to increase this to at least three seats.

“People in the Western Cape will not vote for the ANC. Why don’t you tell your supporters in the Western Cape to vote for Al Jama-ah? They can have all the seats that they want, we will have one or two. It must take place before 8 March,” Hendricks said. (“All independent candidates and political parties who intend to contest the general election must submit nomination requirements by 5pm on 8 March 2024.” — IEC)

The relationship between Al Jama-ah and the ANC made headlines when the mayoralty of the City of Johannesburg twice went to Al Jama-ah members. The coalition in the city consists of the ANC, EFF, PA, Al Jama-ah, Cope and AIC. 

Al Jama-ah’s Thapelo Amad had a short stint as mayor of Joburg before he was axed. He was replaced by the party’s Kabelo Gwamanda, who has been at the helm since May 2023. 

PA eyes Western Cape

Patriotic Alliance (PA) Deputy President Kenny Kunene claims that either his party or the DA will win an outright majority in the Western Cape.

The PA was formed in 2013 but did not fare well in the 2014 and 2019 elections. However, the party has since gained momentum.

western cape kenny kunene

Patriotic Alliance (PA) Deputy President Kenny Kunene. (Photo: Gallo Images / Papi Morake)

“The people of the Western Cape love [PA premier candidate] Gayton McKenzie, the same that he is loved elsewhere in the country and it is a blow to the DA that he is standing.

“Polls do not get anything right for most of the time. Our strength speaks for itself in the Western Cape. There are only two scenarios in the Western Cape: the DA will come number one or we will come number one,” Kunene said.

Sussman agreed with Kunene regarding McKenzie’s potential to woo voters, but believed the PA would not make it to the number two spot.

“I expect the PA to be the third-largest party after this election in the Western Cape. I think they are a force in the elections, especially with Gayton Mckenzie being the premier candidate.

“He does come from the north of the country … but he was the mayor in Central Karoo and he is aware of all the challenges. He has the potential to throw the cat among the pigeons in the province.” 

Kunene said the party’s electoral fate would not be affected by its stance on Israel. The ANC is pro-Palestine while the PA has openly supported Israel. Kunene said this would not affect the party’s working relationship with the ANC.  

ANC ‘open to talks’

ANC Western Cape spokesperson and MPL Muhammad Sayed said they were open to working with other parties only if they were aligned with what the ANC stood for.

The ANC has said it will start coalition discussions after the election results are released.

Western cape muhammed sayed

ANC Western Cape spokesperson and MPL Muhammad Sayed. (Photo: Suné Payne, Daily Maverick)

For us as the ANC, political alliances often depend on the evolving political landscape and the specific conditions leading up to elections. We are open to talks with anyone who supports our policies of being pro-poor and ensuring that resources are spread to the most vulnerable within the provinces before being allocated to those who have a better quality of life. 

“We have seen voters being very dissatisfied with the DA in the province (not building safer communities, failures to deliver houses, closing hospitals, unplaced learner crisis, etc) and this bodes well for us as a party, as we have championed the rights of all who live in this province and not just a specific few.

“At present, we are looking to do well and increase on the last percentage count we had in the province. We enter elections to win,” he said.

The ANC had 31.55% support in the province in 2009, which dropped to 32.89% in 2014 and 28.63% in 2019. ANC membership issues in the province have been flagged as a concern by the party.

The party could get a boost in support from its pro-Palestine stance and the government’s success in the case against Israel at the International Court of Justice, which could draw more Muslim voters to the party. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: How the Israel-Hamas war is stirring up Western Cape politics

“The ANC and the government’s case at the International Court of Justice has never been about drawing Muslim voters but rather about standing for human rights. As a party and country who has firsthand experienced apartheid it is our moral duty and obligation to ensure we uphold our principles, not just at home but also on an international stage,” Sayed said. 

If the ANC intends to rattle the DA’s cage in the Western Cape, it would have to rally up all the smaller parties in a coalition, which could still not be enough to govern the province. The EFF, one of the ANC’s key coalition partners in some municipalities, won 4% in the province in 2019.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Win back the Western Cape, Ramaphosa tells newly elected ANC provincial leaders

The Good factor 

Meanwhile, Good party MP Brett Herron said the party was working hard to attract voters in the Western Cape. In 2019, it obtained 3% of the provincial vote, securing one seat in the legislature.

mtbps herron

Good party MP Brett Herron. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

“The DA’s stronghold in the Western Cape, I think it is disintegrating. The DA is an incumbent, they have been leading the Western Cape for the last 15 years, and I think voters and residents, particularly those who have been neglected by the DA government, will be able to look back and say, ‘I have been supporting the DA and my life has not been better.’ Politically they have not delivered and it is starting to show in the votes,” he said.

Herron said the party would decide about coalitions after the elections.

“We adopted a coalition policy at our conference in November 2023, which guides us with our approach, who we will work with and who we will not work with. We expected that there could be a coalition in the Western Cape. 

“We are approaching the elections on the basis that we are independent and not aligned, so we are not a party of any grouping that is anti-anything and we will make decisions around [coalitions] after elections and guided by our policy,” he said.

The elections will be held on 29 May. DM

Additional reporting by Velani Ludidi.


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Bamdile Sithole says:

    Learning every day

  • H K says:

    Promises promises…..

  • andrew farrer says:

    DA needs to get the message out that a vote for PA, Good, Al jammy IS a vote for the anc

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Dog whistle politics by reporters and the likes of Queenin, Vulani and of course Rebecca.

  • Bob Dubery says:

    Not that I have a reputation as a political analyst, but the feeling I have in my water is that the DA are going to lose ground in this election. This says things about this country that make me uncomfortable. The DA, ironically, are starting to be seen as a bit woke, a bit too ungodly. Homophobes, conservative fundamentalists, immigrant-hating bigots, and those who say they don’t “mind” gay people but that they should stay in their lane, as well as lovers of what are claimed to be traditional African values won’t be fond of the DA, may have doubts about the EFF (who are pan-Africanists), and think the ANC have been a bit too lax on these things.

    They won’t all vote for the same party, but those votes will create a patchwork of parties who can then decide where they are going to get the most influence (which is the PA’s MO). This doesn’t HAVE to be the PA. There’s always Action SA who put a bit of a veer on their xenophobia. Many of these parties are not fond of the constitution and hold our judiciary in contempt. So this is not a good outlook. Cape secessionists will also be deciding where to place their vote.

    I am not an unequivocal DA supporter, but they presented a decent manifesto. I don’t think they’ll be in a position to deliver on that, but it shows their priorities. I would hate to see bigots and fundamentalists end up with a stronger hand after the elections.

    • jason du toit says:

      optics matter. the DA has 13 national leaders of which 7 are white (54%). they have 9 provincial leaders of which 5 are white (56%). and they have 84 MPs of which 55 are white (65%)! perhaps race shouldn’t matter, but it does matter. how is it possible that there are so few capable black political leaders that two thirds of DA MPs are white? this says nothing of the zille factor either: invisible, but believed by many still to be in control of the DA.

      7% of south africans are white (think 1 white person in a taxi, or 1 player in a rugby team on the field). do you think south africans feel like the DA wants to see a transformed south africa?

      • Bob Dubery says:

        I am puzzled by what you mention, because it means that we don’t know everything that goes on inside the DA. Well, maybe it is none of our business (a judge once made the point that “public interest” is not the same as “what the public are interested in”). Why is Lindiwe Mazibuko no longer with them? There was somebody who could inspire, who had vision, who had some of the intellectual prowess we associated with “progs” back in the day. What about Mbali Ntuli? Both of them, by the way, are still active in politics, just not in PARTY politics. They’re the real deal – capable and motivated.

        OTOH they did at one time fast track people who became problems for them. Mashaba being the most notable example.

        Their problem really is that they seem to be unable to reach out to all of South Africa, despite the many decent proposals in their 2024 manifesto. This may because of their split history – Progs, yes, but also Nats. There was a brief moment, under Maimane, when it looked like they might break through, but then some sort of internal revolution happened – again it may be argued that what REALLY happened is not our business – and he was gone. I wasn’t convinced by Maimane, personally, but that moment was there for them. Then it wasn’t and it has never looked like coming back. They stepped back from the Rubicon.

      • Rodney Weidemann says:

        This is exactly what I have been saying about the DA for years. Sadly, they have just gotten worse with regard to their optics – and unfortunately, perception matters at least as much as policy when trying to garner votes…

      • Glyn Morgan says:

        Optics do matter, right. There are some optics that you left out (deliberately?) Think the best service delivery of all parties in SA. That is the DA. There are none so blind as those who will not see.

        As for the “whiteness,” that will self correct with every election and with most job changes. The DA is colour blind. Think 1996 to today.

        • ST ST says:

          I think the phrase ‘optics matter’ should be qualified with ‘optics matter…who, what, where, why’ Clearly if DA has an all round good record, the WC will be the first to defend it. Losing WC is like the ANC losing the black vote. Something fundamental is amiss. If WC not convinced, forget the rest of SA.

          Although the DA has done well in certain aspects, clearly WC is not altogether happy with the DA for whatever reason and the DA has missed the points. It’s not the journalists fault.

          Things will self correct…yes maybe, in a few hundred years! Look at the US

    • jason du toit says:

      i cringe each time i see a photo of DA leaders that looks mostly white. search for images of their leaders and see how few prominent black leaders there are – who are still in the party at least. people say that this shows the DA is racist and maintaining the inequality in south africa.

    • T'Plana Hath says:

      My China, the EFF are not ‘pan-Africanists’. The EFF are a 𝘳𝘦𝘢𝘭 𝘵𝘩𝘪𝘯𝘨, Pan-Africanism is not. I strongly urge you to look up the word. “Pan-Africanism is the idea that people of African descent, no matter where they live in the world, have a lot in common because of their shared history and heritage”.
      Pan-Africanism is an American concept that exemplifies typical, parochial American thinking – that Africa is one big country – and that all Africans have a common ‘history and heritage’. It’s actually insulting.

  • William Dryden says:

    Again the ANC’s Sayed claiming that the DA has done nothing in the Western Cape is another distortion of the truth to try and put people off voting for them. I hope the DA trounce the ANC and AL Jama-ah at the voting stations, because if the impossible becomes possible, then there will be no future in the Western Cape.

  • Alan Watkins says:

    “So we have to work together [with the ANC], like we work in Joburg ”

    Shows you what a fool Ganief Hendricks is. He thinks that the Joburg coalition is a success, and uses that as a reference, whereas most politicians in that type of alliance with that record of non performance would be too ashamed to be part of that

  • Is there hope South Africa? says:

    Look what’s happened in Knysna. Many from the E Cape were attracted by job opportunities and came to live in Knysna. The ANC were voted in & look at Knysna now.
    I see the same happening in Cape Town, the DA will lose ground (hopefully not enough to need a coalition). But if a coalition is required, there are big problems- just look at Jhb, Tshwane etc.
    Problems on the way.

  • Lo-Ammi Truter says:

    The Western Cape is the only province that has been consistently properly governed since 1994. Who governs it? That is the only relevant question in this election.

    The ANC’s attempts to distract the voters’ attention from its monumental failure to deliver any improvement in the lives of disenfranchised South Africans 30 years by inserting itself in the war in Gaza will not work. All it did was to demonstrate that the ANC still thinks we are stupid.

    “Hendricks believes he can broker a deal with the ANC in which governing party supporters in the province will be asked to vote for Al Jama-ah” – if (a very big IF) the ANC agrees to actually tell their supporters to do this, it will be an admission that they are done in the Western Cape, something we already know anyway.

    The only intelligent alternative for people who do not want to vote for the DA is to vote for Rise Mzansi. We need fresh minds in our jaded political landscape.

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