Jacob Zuma’s leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) was in the spotlight yesterday as his party lost support in major centres while the Democratic Alliance’s (DA) support surged.
By 10pm last night, the DA was enjoying 24,1% support countrywide, up from 15% in the previous municipal poll. Its performance in several black townships across the country suggests it is being accepted by black voters.
The DA’s support base is now about one in four South Africans, which — given that only 9,2% of South Africans are white — will go a long way in backing its claim it is being accepted by black voters.
The DA’s growth, largely at the expense of the ANC, may make Zuma’s chances of re-election as the president of the ANC difficult. The party will hold leadership elections next year.
These elections indicate that SA may be moving towards a two- party dominant system.
The National Freedom Party (NFP), launched three months ago, made inroads in Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) strongholds in KwaZulu-Natal. By last night, the NFP had gained two municipalities from the IFP, from which it broke away.
The Congress of the People (COPE) had captured 2,2% of the vote . But the African Christian Democratic Party had won only 20 seats based on the votes counted. Independent councillors won 83 seats across SA.
The ANC seemed to be suffering from a punishment vote, with its traditional black supporters voting against it.
The party’s policy head, Jeff Radebe, conceded last night that the DA was the growth party in these elections. He said the ANC needed to “go back to the drawing board to see what is happening”.
“One of the issues is that some people changed the candidates chosen by the communities,” Radebe said.
He said, however, that the DA’s growth should not be exaggerated because the ANC had retained its metros. “There have been challenges and the ANC will attend to those challenges.”
The DA increased the number of councils it controls with a clear majority, from six before the elections to 17.
The Cape metro vote was still outstanding at 10pm last night.
The number of municipalities the DA would govern is expected to increase as the party is expected to form coalitions in areas where there was no outright winner, and in hung municipalities.
It has made inroads in ANC- controlled townships. While the votes it received were insufficient to change control, they were an indication of a significant shift. The party got votes in Soweto’s middle-class Pimville and Protea South areas.
In an upset, the DA also won ward 32 in Johannesburg from the ANC. Ward 32 includes Buccleuch and part of Alexandra — an ANC stronghold, and once home to Arts and Culture Minister Paul Mashatile and Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe .
In the Eastern Cape, the DA increased its number of councillors in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro, where the ANC scraped through with 51% of the vote.
The ANC has 61 seats out of 120 in the metro. That means that if only one ANC councillor is absent from a council meeting, the party will not be able to pass bylaws without opposition support.
In Port Elizabeth’s Walmer township, the DA also registered an increased number of votes.
In the Transkei, the DA won wards in Mthatha, Port St Johns and Lusikisiki. Most significantly, it won a ward in Nguza Hill (Flagstaff), the rural town controversially put on the map by Co- operative Governance Minister Sicelo Shiceka when he diverted its only tarred road to the house he is building for his mother.
In East London the DA took two wards from the ANC — including Gompo Town (Duncan Village) and Southernwood, both of which have few white voters.
Political analyst Mcebisi Ndletyana said the DA was seen as a white-dominated party, and its performance at the polls this week could possibly “shake that monkey out of its bag”.
The official opposition increased its grip on the Western Cape by winning 13 municipalities outright. By using its record in the handful of municipalities and single metro it controlled before the poll, the DA succeeded in making service delivery — and not race — the central theme of its election campaign.
A key result for the DA was its retention of control of the Midvaal council in Gauteng, with an increased majority — after the ANC threw everything into winning the municipality back.
It was expected the DA’s majority in Cape Town would be reduced, but DA insiders were confident the party would win the metro outright. The alliance between the DA and the Independent Democrats (ID) also appeared to have worked, with the DA retaining its areas and ID strongholds. Clearly the DA and ID marriage, with Patricia de Lille as the mayoral candidate, attracted large parts of the coloured vote.
Many of these voters would have been mindful of the declaration by then labour director-general Jimmy Manyi (now chief government spokesman) that there was an overconcentration of coloureds in the Western Cape and the subsequent accusation by ANC heavyweight Trevor Manuel that Manyi was a racist in the mould of Hendrik Verwoerd.
The DA also wrested several municipalities in the province from the ANC: Breede River, Saldanha Bay, Knysna and George — which would not have been possible without support from all races. James Selfe, chairman of the DA’s federal executive, said a significant number of wards had been won from the ANC across SA, and this could not have been achieved without black support, which had more than trebled since the previous election.
Facing defeat in the Cape Town ANC mayoral race, ANC candidate Tony Ehrenreich last night said he believed the ANC’s score would grow as counting continued on the Cape Flats, but conceded the party had failed to win coloured voters away from the DA.
“I don’t think we were going to be able to turn around traditional support to other parties so quickly,” he said, adding that people were still voting according to “apartheid faultlines” in the province.
“Coloured areas voted for the DA.
“So that should tell you that the people feel scared and more secure with people who had traditionally given coloureds a better deal.”
He conceded government spokesman Jimmy Manyi’s controversial comments that there was “an oversupply of coloureds” in the Western Cape, may have harmed the ANC’s chances.
Ehrenreich said he did not regret refusing to run a campaign that targeted specific race groups.
“I’m not going to be pandering to that type of racial division.”
Credit to: Business Day and Sapa