The 2016 Local Government Elections saw more than 73-million ballots printed for distribution to more than 22,000 voting stations in order to allow voters to elect over 63,000 candidates into office.
On the whole our elections went off relatively smoothly (but let us not forget the 20 deceased candidates on our ballot sheets). Results have been trickling into the nerve centres of the Independent Electoral Commission. By the late afternoon of Thursday, 4 August, more than 85% of all votes had been accounted for with some stragglers such as eThekwini eventually featuring after some speculation that delays were caused by IT problems (a technical glitch with the scanners is apparently to blame).
The challenge with the polling, predictions and results is that we will only have a better sense of the outcomes, trends and impact by the weekend. At the moment it is just too early to be crunching the numbers.
Nationally, the ANC lead with about 53% (over 10-million votes) followed by the DA with 27% (over 5-million votes) and the EFF with about 7% (about 1.5-million votes). We would witness the revival of the IFP across Kwazulu Natal including securing control of Nkandla municipality with a healthy 54% majority.
By Thursday evening, the race in Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan municipality appeared to be leaning in favour of the DA with 49.49% after 90% of all votes were accounted for.
Our elections have been highly contested with millions being spent. All to secure the blind loyalty of voters. The rhetoric has often been disingenuous and the stakes have been high.
Many would say that these elections are also about Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma and the ANC. However, these elections are also about Mmusi Maimane and the role that the DA can play beyond Cape Town and the Western Cape as well as Julius Malema and the viability (and potential) of the EFF (the self-styled “government in waiting”).
Talk of which, coalitions will have to enter our thinking, especially if current results in Gauteng hold. The big question is how it will be possible for the EFF to sit around the same table as the DA? Will expediency and the taste of power be enough to put these two parties together? How would this “unholy alliance” (as regarded by the ANC) function?
More important, the post-mortem of these elections should be an opportunity to reflect deeply on the nature of our politics. We should be carefully reviewing the emptiness of the political rhetoric and the many promises. The conduct by politicians (both former and current) must be reviewed and questioned. How is it possible for Kgalema Motlanthe, former deputy president, to campaign for the ANC in Gauteng yet on the eve of those very elections be quoted as saying that the ANC had “lost the plot” and that its structures were “bogus”? How is it possible for Jessie Duarte, Deputy Secretary General of the ANC, to rant on radio station PowerFM? And, of course, how does Helen Zille return to social media an hour after the polls closed with her problematic missive? Richard Poplak in his column yesterday summed it up best by saying:
Zille should have been publicly sanctioned by the DA leadership for her social media flameouts; if she were the CEO of an organisation that was actually beholden to its stakeholders, she’d have been fired long ago. No one in the DA has the balls to rein her in – even its ostensible leader, Mmusi Maimane – because they know that Zille actually holds the reins.
It seems that the best barbs and rants come to Zille as voting results are being calculated. Just two years ago, at the IEC Results Operation Centre, Zille was asked to comment on the disastrous results of Agang SA and Dr Mamphela Ramphele and she was quoted, at the time, as saying, “I offered her the world, she wanted the galaxy, and she ended up with a shack in Pofadder”. Am I surprised that Zille would attack students who said UCT was their “reluctant home”? Well, obviously no. After all, I only need to think back to Zille’s short and tumultuous tie-up with Ramphele, which ended as abruptly as it started.
All things considered, Zille’s conduct or that of Duarte or even former leaders such as Motlanthe is not surprising. What is troubling is that this behaviour and conduct often goes unanswered. There are no corrective steps. There is no self-correction or renewal. The voters don’t appear to matter in between the election dates. This need for groupthink or solidarity is misplaced. South Africans will have to do far more to hold these troubled characters accountable, especially in this new age of institutional expediency. DM