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Elections 2019: How the people will vote

2019-03-12 21:48

As election season starts earnestly, City Press looks at the prospects in each of the nine provinces, given results in 2014.

Mpumalanga

In 2014 the Mpumalanga ANC under David Mabuza aimed to sweep the boards by winning no less than 90% of the vote.

It was a very ambitious target in light of internal divisions that were ravaging the party.

Three years earlier, the ANC had suffered a major blow when disgruntled comrades in Bohlabela splintered to form the Bushbuckridge Residents’ Association (BRA).

The ANC won 78.23% in the 2014 general elections, but one legislature seat went to BRA, three to the DA and two to the EFF.

BRA is about to die now after Mabuza lured its then secretary, Cleopas Maunye, back to the ANC.

Another problem has emerged for the ANC – it is called the SA National Congress of Traditional Authorities (Sancota).

Formed by Mabuza’s estranged friend, Themba Sigudla, the new party has been wooing ANC and BRA councillors in Bushbuckridge, where it was launched last week.

Sancota’s strength comes from the many disillusioned youth from Sigudla’s NGO, the Practical Radical Economic Transformation of SA.

In happier times, Mabuza embraced the NGO.

It is not easy to tell how much of a dent Sancota will cause to the ANC, but it will definitely take some votes.

Mpumalanga ANC has failed to replace Mabuza because of fear of exacerbating disunity.

The ANC is poised to win Mpumalanga again, but certainly not with 90%.

Gauteng

The richest province in the country has long been a target of the opposition. It hopes to remove the ANC, which has always looked vulnerable. In 2014 the ANC received 53.5% of the votes compared with the DA’s 30.7% and the EFF’s 10.3%.

With the two opposition parties cumulatively at 41% in the last elections, it is clear that if they pull up their socks this time around, they will give the ANC a run for its money, dislodging it through a coalition.

The DA even moved its party headquarters to the province to show that it means business in Gauteng.

An Institute of Race Relations poll said the ANC was at about 41%, but the party has dismissed this as a small, unrepresentative poll.

The ANC itself believes it is on course to perform much better than the opposition hopes. Its election machinery says president Cyril Ramaphosa is swinging the voting patterns in their favour.

They believe former president Jacob Zuma’s issues of Nkandla and the Constitutional Court ruling against him adversely affected it in the 2014 and 2016 local elections. But with that out of the way and Ramaphosa appealing to minority voters, who had deserted the party in droves, ANC leaders are quietly optimistic.

But Gauteng is where the EFF has shown the strongest growth and where it hopes to govern in the municipalities after the elections.

It is poised to throw in all its resources and go head to head with the ANC and DA.

Gauteng ANC is not even entertaining the possibility of a coalition government as it does not expect to drop under 50%. But the opposition can smell blood.

North West

More than 1.1 million people voted in North West in 2014, giving the ANC a 67% majority. But since then the party has been its own worst enemy.

The ANC’s last hope is pinned on the goodwill of voters, hoping they will rescue it from the intensive care unit out of loyalty to the brand.

But the party will be doomed if voters become despondent because of the internal divisions and opt to stay away from the polls instead of voting for any opposition party.

The message from the ANC, from president Cyril Ramaphosa and secretary-general Ace Magashule speaks of the party being bigger than individuals.

But even they know many ANC members in North West do not subscribe to those grand notions and have long dropped the pretence of selfless political activism.

This time around former Cabinet spokesperson Mzwanele Manyi’s African Transformation Movement is suspected of being a sleeper party for the supporters of Supra Mahumapelo and former president Jacob Zuma in an alleged bid to undermine Ramaphosa.

The EFF believes it’s in a good position to upset the ANC and win absolute majority, however, that remains their best-case scenario.

Its worst-case scenario is to bring the ANC below 50%, which would need other smaller parties like United Christian Democratic Party, United Democratic Movement, Congress of the People and African Christian Democratic Party to up their game – and lead a new coalition government.

North West gave EFF 144 000 votes in 2014.

The DA is less enthusiastic about North West, especially going in as a junior opposition to the EFF.

KwaZulu-Natal

KwaZulu Natal will be a hotly contested province come May 8.

The province, which has the biggest population after Gauteng, has been the refuge of the ANC in the past few elections, an antithesis to other provinces where the party has seen some decline.

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), which governed the province in the early days of democracy, lost its opposition status to the DA. In 2014 the IFP came in with 11% of the vote, with the DA walking off with 13%.

Part of the IFP’s decline in the province came from infighting in the party which saw the formation of a breakaway, the National Freedom Party, which secured 7% of the provincial vote in 2014.

In recent months, however, data and by-elections show a trend of the resurgence of the IFP posing a threat to the ANC, particularly in rural areas.

The forced resignation of Zuma could also work against the ANC, with those loyal to him threatening to stay away or give their vote to another party in protest.

In a province where tribal politics are at play, Ramaphosa may be seen as an outsider.

The EFF had a less-than-impressive outcome in the province during its maiden contestation, receiving only 2% of the vote.

Since then, however, the party has made an impression, particularly at the student level, winning seats on campuses across the province.

The coming together of three growing opposition parties may lead to a provincial coalition government in what has become a traditional stronghold of the ANC.

If it does manage to retain the province, it is likely to be well below the 65% it garnered in 2014. – 

Western Cape

For the first time since the DA snatched the Western Cape from the ANC in 2009, the party is staring down the barrel of a gun, facing the prospects of losing the province or suffering an embarrassing decline.

Under the leadership of former party leader Helen Zille, the DA became the first party to usurp power from the ANC in 2009 when it garnered 51% of the vote.

In 2014 the DA cemented its place in the province with 59% of the vote.

The ANC, for the most part, appears to have accepted defeat in the Western Cape, failing to offer any real opposition.

But the ANC does appear to have unleashed a secret weapon in the form of president Cyril Ramaphosa, who has been spending a significant time campaigning for the ANC there.

The real threat for the DA is warring factions within the party itself. This will be the first election for the party under the leadership of Mmusi Maimane.

But he has fallen out with Zille, who still commands significant support in the party.

In the past year the party has scored a series of own goals leading to loss of support from some of its loyalists.

The infighting came to a head when former Cape Town mayor Patricia de Lille left the party and started the Good Party. She remains popular in some parts of the Cape metro.

At the height of the fight between De Lille and the DA, the party’s own internal polls indicated that support had dipped below the 50% mark in the Western Cape.

Recovery has been slow and will be hampered by Good.

Limpopo

The Red Berets have started their campaign early in the province, where there has been little or no visibility of the ANC. The province is home to EFF leader Julius Malema.

Another problem for the ANC is that its foot soldiers – the youth league – are highly divided and have failed to mobilise young voters to rally behind the party.

The EFF has capitalised on the ANC’s weaknesses by making serious inroads in several townships in the province, including Seshego, Malema’s birthplace.

Some ANC provincial leaders admitted last week that the party’s strength was now only in the villages, where many people, particularly older people, still see the ANC as the party that liberated them from apartheid.

There was big sigh of relief last week when the ANC retained ward 5 of the Fetakgomo Tubatse local municipality during by-elections.

It was seen as an indication that the ANC, which has been in power since 1994, will retain the province.

Despite the threat posed by the EFF, many believe the diagnosis that the ANC is heading for an early grave in the province is far-fetched.

In the general elections in 2014 the ANC obtained 78.60%.

The EFF became the official opposition party garnering 10.74% compared with the DA’s 6.8% of votes. The ANC is likely to retain power, but support for the EFF is expected to grow substantially.

Northern Cape

A total of 1.2 million people live here and 625 968 voters (79.9%) from 707 voting districts will determine the stake of each political party in the 30-seat provincial legislature.

While the ANC garnered an impressive 63.6% in 2014, the DA aims to win Northern Cape.

The EFF banks on the youth vote to bolster a coalition government.

DA premier candidate Andrew Louw said: “We are looking at reducing the ANC’s 64% to just less than 50% so that negotiations on a coalition government can begin.”

Notwithstanding the coloured vote which saw the then newly formed Independent Democrats eating DA votes before their merger, Galeshewe, in the Sol Plaatje subregion, has always been the ANC’s traditional support base.

Ramaphosa reportedly invited ANC provincial chairperson Zamani Saul to his home to thank the people of Galeshewe, specifically after the Nasrec conference.

With the Congress of the People ship sinking since its exceptional performance in 2009, the DA took the mantle of opposition in 2014.

The EFF came third in the mining and agricultural province.

The EFF’s Shadrack Tlhaole says the party’s support increased as they gained an extra 40 000 votes, signifying growth.

“We are aiming to get at least 130 000 votes or seven seats in the legislature”.

Eastern Cape

The ANC won Eastern Cape comfortably in 2014, winning more than 1.5 million votes (70%).

But the record, in the back yard of many ANC luminaries, such as Nelson Mandela, did not help the party much two years later in the 2016 municipal elections when it lost Nelson Mandela Bay metro.

Former provincial chairperson Phumulo Masualle, who led the 2014 campaign, warned in his last address in 2017 that the party was losing support in urban areas, such as the metro.

The DA, which succeeded the ANC in the metro, would like to ride the momentum of 2016, but the unstable coalition government since then might have left a sour taste as service delivery failed and parties played musical chairs in council.

The metro has since landed in the hands of the United Democratic Movement (UDM) with the help of the ANC, African Independent Congress and United Front.

Last October the EFF elected its provincial branch in Eastern Cape. The elections will test whether the structure has settled down after some members left the conference venue dejected.

The EFF has two seats in the Eastern Cape legislature, the UDM has four, the DA has 10 and the ANC has 45. Cope is fizzling out with one seat.

The May 8 elections might see taxi drivers among those trying their luck at governance in the Eastern Cape under the banner of the new party, the Alliance for Transformation for All (ATA).

ATA joins the likes of the African Transformation Movement, which might be looking at the Eastern Cape as a hunting ground.

Free State

The ANC has always easily enjoyed a two-thirds majority in the province.

In the last elections, the ANC enjoyed a 69.88% share while the DA and the EFF received 16.23% and 8.15%, respectively.

Since then, the Free State ANC has been riddled by factionalism and infighting, leaving it susceptible to diminishing votes.

A major turning point for the province was Magashule relinquishing the premiership at the beginning of last year after he was elected ANC secretary-general.

Under Magashule, allegations continued to mount that its municipalities and departments were used as a cash cow to enrich the Gupta family and their lieutenants while a majority of its inhabitants languished in poverty.

In March 28 last year a new premier, Sisi Ntombela, was elected. However, she has been accused to being “a puppet” of Magashule, an allegation she has strenuously denied.

Opposition parties seem to have failed to capitalise on the ANC’s internal squabbles.

The EFF was embroiled in infighting, with recently elected chairperson Mandisa Makhesini vowing to restore unity in the party.

The DA and lesser-known parties have also failed to make headway as they seem to prioritise the bigger metros instead of the smaller provinces.

Latest polls, however, indicate that the ANC might lose 9% and fall to 60%, while the DA and EFF could gain ground to 20% and 14%, respectively.


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January 19 2020