The results from the votes are coming in, and while they may hold some small surprises for new players like the EFF it looks like much of the next five years is going to be business as usual
With almost a third of the votes officially counted by 12pm on 8th March 2014, little seems to have changed for the ruling ANC. As expected, President Jacob Zuma is expected to return for another term and lead South Africa with an ANC majority in the National Assembly, even though the current count of votes tallied around 62 per cent means that the party may have lost more than 20 seats in parliament.
The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) seems to have settled in around a solid 24 per cent mark, strengthening a growing opposition trend, which is bound to give the ANC some headaches in parliament in years to come. Party leader Helen Zille has managed to double the party’s electorate during the ten years that she’s been at the helm of the DA, but fell rather short of the 30 per cent mark that the opposition had initially aimed for.
The biggest change in political dynamics is probably the fact that erstwhile ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema and his newly-formed EFF are expected to march into parliament as the third-strongest player with about 4,5 per cent of the vote. In some provinces, such as Limpopo, EFF votes even seem to outnumber those of the DA. However, with Malema facing some financial difficulties linked to personal insolvency cases to the tune of R16 million, his personal tenure might be rather short-lived if his credit record doesn’t end up matching parliamentary requirements.
First results also show that the Congress of the People (COPE) is all but destroyed in this election with less than 1 per cent of the national vote going to the party formed of ANC defectors ahead of the 2009 general election. Coming down from 7,42 per cent during the last election this is a bitter defeat for the party, which would like to provide a competent opposition voice to face the ANC.
Mamphela Ramphele’s Agang SA also seems to be suffering low popularity ratings simmering well under the 1 per cent mark, making it unclear whether she will even have a seat for herself in parliament or not. Following the failed merger with the DA earlier this year, the businesswoman and struggle icon may need to rethink her objectives as well as strategy if she wants to continue partaking in politics.
Surprisingly perhaps, with a mere 2,3 per cent at the time of the publishing of this report, The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) appears to be yet again the fourth strongest force in parliament. Though still popular in KwaZulu Natal, the IFP has only managed to attract half its previous voter base (compared to 2009) to entrust their vote with Mangosuthu Buthelezi’s party.
Other parties that are bound to stir up the National Assembly are the National Freedom Party (NFP) with roughly 1,5 per cent and the United Democratic Movement (UDM) with about 1 per cent.
Results can still vary widely, as ballots continue to be counted. But winners and losers should be rather clearly indicated, as the country begins to settle into its third decade as a democracy.
This is the first election, in which the “born free generation” could partake, reportedly making up for 2,5 per cent of the electorate. It was also the first election, which saw voting rights open up to all South African living abroad regardless of their registration status. However, results of that international vote have not been published yet.
By Sertan Sanderson, 2014