With some results outstanding, the ANC looks on course to retain its position as the largest party in South Africa. The ANC won around 54% of the vote nationally in these local elections, which is well ahead of the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) who won 26% and 8% respectively. Given that there are some areas where counting has not concluded these figures may well change slightly. On the face of it these elections look like good news for the ANC, as the party clearly remains the most popular. However these results show a clear trend of people becoming disillusioned with the party.
Although the ANC has maintained a level of support above 50% of the voters, the party should be worried about the trend that is emerging. In the Western Cape the Democratic Alliance extended it’s lead over the ANC. The ANC’s vote share declined to just 26% and the DA’s increased to 63%. Any hope of the ANC regaining control of the Western Cape has now faded. In the Eastern Cape the ANC performed much better, but lost the tight election race in Nelson Mandela Bay, which contains the city of Port Elizabeth. Despite the success of the ANC in other parts of the Eastern Cape, it doesn’t look especially good when the ANC loses control of an area named after their most famous member.
As I’m writing this it’s been reported that the ANC may lose control of Tshwane, which contains one of the nation’s capital cities- Pretoria. Even if the party manages to retain control of the municipality, the news is bleak for the ANC in this area. Not only are the party bleeding votes to the Right, in the form of the DA, but they are losing votes to the EFF, a more radical left-wing party. Tshwane’s politics are becoming increasingly fractured, and this election has illustrated this.
As well as trouble in Tshwane, the ANC are also expected to lose control of Johannesburg. The vote bleed in Johannesburg was mostly in one direction, straight to the DA. There were some isolated pockets of the EFF gaining ground, but the ANC’s main problem is with the rise of the DA. The trend is now that the large cities are starting to become havens for the DA, and the countryside is staying loyal to the ANC. The problem for the ANC in the long term is that the EFF have policies that are likely to resonate in the countryside, especially with black voters, and regional interest parties appear to be growing in influence.
The people of South Africa are slowly waking up to the corruption of the ANC. Not only are they waking up to the corruption, but the belief that can do something about it is also growing. I do not wish for South Africa to be governed by a centrist group of liberals, but I also do not wish for the ANC in its current form to carry on in power. The ANC need a jolt to get them to cleanse the party of corruption and apathy, and if that means some good results for the DA and the EFF in the short term, then so be it.
Editor’s note: The ANC won Johannesburg, although the statistical analysis of vote share remains true.