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2024 ELECTIONS

IEC declares SA’s watershed May 29 polls ‘free and fair’ as no outright winner emerges

IEC declares SA’s watershed May 29 polls ‘free and fair’ as no outright winner emerges
IEC CEO Sy Mamabolo declares the 2024 election results on 2 June 2024. (Photo: Richard Stupart)

The African National Congress, which has held the majority rule since 1994 and is Africa’s oldest liberation movement, has faced a historic defeat in South Africa’s 2024 general elections.

The African National Congress (ANC) has lost its outright majority and there is no outright winner of the 2024 general elections. 

The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) announced the results of South Africa’s 2024 national and provincial elections at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand on Sunday night, 2 June 2024.

“Elections 2024 was like no other before,” said IEC chief electoral officer Sy Mamabolo. “It had salient features pointing to an ever-increasing magnitude of political dynamism, an effervescent electoral environment and operational complexity.”

“Even with novel challenges and political contours never experienced before, the 2024 election is a moment of democratic election,” said Mamabolo. He said the watershed polls were overwhelmingly found to be “free and fair”.

In the top spot nationally, the ANC has 40.2% – which is well below an outright majority and is 17 percentage points lower than its 2019 general election result of 57.5% nationally. The governing party, and Africa’s oldest liberation movement, has faced a defeat second to none. 

Previously, the ANC’s biggest drop from one election to the next was 4.7 percentage points, in 2019.

Read more in Daily Maverick: It’s a wrap — ANC down, but not out, as deal-making kicks off

At a press conference on the outcome of the 2024 general election on Sunday morning, ANC secretary-general Fikile Mbalula, was frank about the party’s stunning decline in its support. 

“Not everyone got what they wanted, but we [the ANC] got a beating,” Mbalula said. 

The ANC has lost 71 seats in Parliament. There were audible gasps in the auditorium when the provincial legislature results for KwaZulu-Natal were placed on the boards – showing the uMkhonto Wesizwe (MK) party winning 37 seats in the provincial legislature and the ANC walking away with only 14. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Violence & Threats, Inc: Zuma may have overplayed his violent hand

The ANC has an outright majority in five provinces: Eastern Cape, Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga, and North West.

President Cyril Ramaphosa on Sunday night appeared to take his party’s loss in his stride, quipping that he wished the results were from 2019 – a mistake in the date the IEC chairperson had earlier made when announcing the national election results. It was Ramaphosa’s first appearance since the ANC’s staggering loss in the polls. 

“As we take our seats in Parliament, and the provincial legislatures, let us appreciate that the seats do not belong to us, but to the people of South Africa,” Ramaphosa said.  

The Democratic Alliance (DA) is in second position with 21.8%, only a marginal increase from the party’s 2019 result, which stood at 20.8%. This means the DA has gained three seats in the National Assembly. 

With the votes counted, one of the clear trends that has emerged is that the DA appears to have clawed back the Afrikaans votes it lost to the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) in 2019. Daily Maverick’s Rebecca Davis has reported that is evidenced by the margin of the DA’s growth nationally (+1%) and the Freedom Front Plus’ (FF+) dip in its support (-1.02%). 

Speaking to Daily Maverick at the national results centre about the party’s slight decline, FF+ leader Pieter Groenewald said: “Of course, no party will say it’s OK. We would have liked to have gained 1%. But it is not a train smash. We still have more than double what we had in 2014.”

Read more in Daily Maverick: Reality Check cometh: Multi-Party Charter fails to shoot to the moon

Jacob Zuma’s political juggernaut, the MK party, stands at a whopping 14.6% nationally – meaning it will bring 58 MPs into the National Assembly. 

The MK party has shot the lights out in this election – by far the greatest electoral debut for any party in democratic South Africa. Previously, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in 2014, and Congress of the People (Cope) in 2009, had impressive debuts. But neither compared to the MK party’s rise in 2024. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Chaos Is The Point: Zuma threatens IEC, and daughter Duduzile attacks its Commissioner Janet Love

The EFF is holding the fourth-largest party mantle with 9.5% of the national vote. That’s 1.3 percentage points lower than 2019.

At a press conference on Saturday, party leader Julius Malema said he was pleased with his party’s rank. 

“We are happy because we have achieved our mission in our lifetime, which was to bring the ANC below 50%,” Malema said. 

“For the first time since 1994, the parliamentary majority of the ANC has been broken.” 

Daily Maverick’s Marianne Merten explains below that the EFF will lose about four to five seats in the National Assembly because of its 1.3 percentage point decline.

Intimidation and misinformation attacks 

Speaking at the press conference on Sunday, the IEC’s chairperson, Mosotho Moepya, said the 2024 elections “have tested the strength of our institutions, the integrity of our systems, and the resolve of our citizens”.

“These elections were undoubtedly the most highly contested. As a nation, we have emerged triumphant, having conducted these elections with the utmost transparency, fairness and adherence to the highest standards of democratic practice. There were many challenges we had to overcome,” he said. 

Moepya said the journey to the polls was “not without its challenges”.

“It sometimes entailed concerted attacks on the members and key staff of the commission, attempts to undermine the credibility of this institution, relentless and targeted social media attacks, disinformation campaigns, unwarranted allegations and, sometimes, what appeared to be acts of intimidation,” he said. 

Taking to the podium at the conclusion of the IEC’s ceremony, Commissioner Janet Love’s voice cracked with emotion. Love has been the subject of an onslaught of attacks from social media trolls in the past months. 

Voter turnout 

With 100% of the voting districts declared, South Africa is sitting on a voter turnout of 58.6% – a stunning decline since 2019, when we had a voter turnout of 66%. It appears that about 11 million registered voters did not vote on South Africa’s future. 

The long queues countrywide on Wednesday were not a true indication of a higher turnout at the polls. 

On Sunday, Mamabolo said 16.2 million people cast their ballots in South Africa’s general election.

“The act of civic action reinforces South Africa as an irrevocable democracy, grounded on amongst other values, regular free and fair elections,” Mamabolo said. DM

Gallery

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