Parties count the cost of bruising poll results
If the 2019 general election is remembered for anything, it may well be that South Africans did not have nearly as much faith in the country’s largest political parties, the ANC and DA, as before.
Both parties garnered substantially fewer votes than in previous elections.
For the ANC, this was somewhat expected given that the party has ruled SA since 1994 and is still trying to recover from the scandals of the Jacob Zuma era.
According to some observers, President Cyril Ramaphosa’s popularity saved the ANC from an even greater decline, as indicated by the fact that some voters split their votes, choosing the ANC in the national ballot but snubbing the party in the provincial vote.
This trend was detected in Gauteng, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga.
However, in a strong indication that tensions remain within the governing party, ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule on Friday scoffed at suggestions that the party was rescued by “Ramaphoria”.
At a news conference at the IEC national results operations centre in Pretoria, Magashule said supporters voted for the party, not an individual.
By 5pm Friday, the ANC had 57.7% of the national vote, with the DA (20.6%) in second place followed by the EFF (10.6%) in third.
The ANC received 62.15% of the vote in 2014.
It is the first time support for the DA (and it predecessor, the DP) dipped since 1994.
The poor showing was best illustrated in Mpumalanga, where the EFF unseated the DA as the official opposition in the legislature. While the DA reclaimed the Western Cape, it was with a reduced majority.
With 98.8% of the votes captured in the Eastern Cape on Friday evening, the ANC decisively won its heartland by 68.75%, with the DA garnering 15.74% and EFF 7.79% of the votes.
It was a different story in the country’s economic hub, Gauteng, where the ANC seemed dangerously close to losing a majority for much of the day, raising the possibility of a coalition government for the province.
ANC support has been on the decline in Gauteng since 2004, dropping from 68% that year to 53% in 2014.
The stagnant performance of the DA sparked questions about the political future of its leader, Mmusi Maimane, but DA federal council chair and former Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Athol Trollip moved to quell this chatter.
Trollip said: “It’s unfair for him [Maimane] to respond [about his future]. Mmusi Maimane was elected until 2021. He will continue to lead this party. I saw some notices [that said] that this election was reminiscent of 1994.
“This was probably the most important and heavily contested election since 1994. Maimane led a team. We all take responsibility that there is going to be no irresponsibility about the leadership. [He] is the leader of the DA and will be the leader of the DA until the next congress.”..