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2024 ELECTIONS

DA threatens to approach courts over IEC elections ‘omnishambles’

DA threatens to approach courts over IEC elections ‘omnishambles’
Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen being interviewed by media at the IEC Results Operation Centre in Midrand. 31 May 2024. (Photo: Felix Dlangamandla)

DA leader John Steenhuisen has termed the 2024 general elections an ‘omnishambles’, and says the IEC must be held accountable. But DA party activists were generally all smiles on Friday afternoon about the results coming in.

“The IEC has been a complete disaster these elections. It’s our biggest opponent that wasn’t on the ballot sheet.”

Those were the words of DA leader John Steenhuisen, addressing journalists at the national results centre on Friday morning.

“Our legal team is looking at whether we may take action against the IEC for damages, because we’ve calculated that it’s almost a full percentage point that their inefficiencies and ineffectiveness has possibly shaved off our result and the results of the other political parties as well.”

Steenhuisen was talking shortly before the presentation of the results of a Human Sciences Research Council (HSRC) voter satisfaction survey on Friday which suggested that most voters were required to queue for longer periods than in either the 2021 local government elections or the 2019 general elections.

 

The DA and the EFF have been the two parties most outspoken in criticism of the IEC’s performance these elections. The EFF said that the temporary crashing of the elections body’s results dashboard on Friday morning was further evidence that the IEC could not be trusted to “safeguard our democracy”.

DA upbeat about results

Steenhuisen said that despite the IEC’s poor electoral handling, he was very happy with the results coming through for the DA thus far.

The DA leader said that the party had proved naysayers and the media wrong, with reports of the DA’s demise “greatly exaggerated”. Steenhuisen hit out at those who claimed that parties like Rise Mzansi would replace the DA as the official opposition.

At time of writing, the DA was sitting on 23% of the national vote with 61% of voting districts counted. In 2019, the party secured 20.77% nationally.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Elections Dashboard

Steenhuisen described the DA as the “only party in Parliament” to be on a growth track — an accurate statement currently, since although the DA’s growth rate this elections has been so far wildly eclipsed by both the Patriotic Alliance and the MK party, neither has a seat in Parliament at the moment.

Asked how he would rate his own performance as leader, Steenhuisen shot back: “I hope you’re going to ask Mr Ramaphosa that, and Mr Mashaba”.

He added, in a dig at his predecessor: “I’ve got more black votes than Mr Maimane got as [DA] leader”.

Multi-party charter counterparts looking rocky

Steenhuisen affirmed the DA’s commitment to the Multi-Party Charter (MPC): the group of political parties who agreed before the election to commit to potentially working together in coalition after the elections, and which includes the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and Action SA.

Votes from the largest urban centres have still yet to be recorded, and their arrival will likely move things around the leaderboard considerably.

But it does appear, as of noon on Friday, that a number of the DA’s MPC counterparts are recording poorer levels of support than expected.

The IFP, which was the fourth largest party in 2019 with 3.38% of the vote nationally, was sitting at 2.9% at time of writing. ActionSA, meanwhile, had recorded just 1.1%.

Steenhuisen said, with regards to the performance of his MPC teammates: “I am disappointed in some of the results. ActionSA said they would bring 10% [of the national vote]”.

Coalition with ANC not ruled out

Asked directly whether the DA would consider a coalition with the ANC, a point on which the party was cagey before voting, Steenhuisen would neither confirm nor deny that this was on the cards.

He said that the first move for the DA would be to discuss matters with the other members of the MPC.

“We are only looking for coalitions with parties that share our values and principles,” Steenhuisen said.

Daily Maverick understands that the DA may have embarked on initial reach-outs with the ANC and IFP in KwaZulu-Natal as a result of the unexpectedly strong performance of the MK party in that province.

Although the DA looked set to retain its crown jewel of the Western Cape at time of writing, there will be introspection for party activists in other provinces.

In the Northern Cape, the first province to complete all vote counting, the party’s provincial legislature votes dropped by 4,3% — seemingly as a result of gains made by the EFF and the Patriotic Alliance. DM

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