Will the ANC lose ground in th

Will the ANC lose ground in this week’s election?

The ANC might just be the all-out winner as well as the biggest loser of the upcoming national election in South Africa on Wednesday. But to what extent are voting patterns likely to change or remain the same in what commentators have called the most exciting election in twenty years?

Will the ANC lose ground in th

Zille Zuma flag

Most predictions for this week’s national elections place the ruling ANC above the 60 per cent mark, as anyone would expect.

The most-widely quoted poll (Ipsos) predicts as much as almost 64 per cent as likely, however, the same organisation had placed the ANC at merely 53 per cent in January, proving that there is considerable leeway for variation.

If the ANC were to fall to (or below) 60 per cent, the party would subsequently lose as many as 30 seats in parliament after getting almost 66 per cent of the votes in the last national election, which might account for a measurable change in parliamentary dynamics. What the ANC will inevitably lose out on is any majority that would enable it to change constitutional matters, staying well off the required 67 per cent mark.

This may come as a relief to certain constitutional experts, who have been interpreting legislative changes taken by the ANC in recent years as alarming signs of what intentions the party may have with regard to constitutional matters in the future – in particular with the introduction of the “Secrecy Bill” in the past, limiting press freedom and other information services.

The Democratic Alliance (DA), on the other other hand, is expected to continue a winning streak with a projected 23 per cent of the vote, effectively doubling the share of votes it had ten years ago. With an aggressive campaign aimed at young voters, the DA is trying to woo its future electorate while hoping to maintain the Western Cape as the only South African province not run by the ANC, which it is also predicted to succeed in. It may not be the 30 per cent share that the DA had initially hoped for, but in its own words, the DA is indeed the only South African party that has consistently grown in the past 20 years of democracy.

And then there are the little fish – EFF, COPE, Agang, Inkatha Freedom Party and other players, making our democracy more colourful and equally fragmented.

Julius Malema’s newly-incorporated Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), is predicted to carve out up to 5 per cent, expected to consist mainly of disgruntled ANC voters. This is bound to give the erstwhile ANC Youth League leader (and a select few of his nearest associates) a few dozen seats in parliament, which should make for guaranteed entertainment in the upcoming legislative period – if nothing else. However, with a bankruptcy case nipping at his ankles, Juju may yet be in for a rude awakening and may have to forfeit his highly coveted place at the National Assembly.

Someone who is never short for money (except for while running campaigns) is Dr Mamphela Ramphele, who is also expected to clinch herself a job in parliament for the next five years, receiving a handful of seats for her newly-incorporated Agang SA. The new party is expected to garner between 1 and 2 per cent of the vote, following its unification blunder with the DA earlier this year, which may not have served the best interest of her public image.

As for Cope, Inkatha, the United Democratic Movement and others, the predictions are forecast in the single digits for both seats and percentages to be achieved. In fact, they are all expected to widely lose out on the numbers of the previous election, on average halving the seats that they hitherto held.

Some analysts say this confirms that South Africans are looking for a sense of unanimity by either voting for a congruous leadership (ANC) or a united opposition (DA), while others blame a notion of disillusionment directed at the lack of clout that small parties can contribute in parliament as the main reason for the growing failure of the smaller end of the parliamentary spectrum.

But the most interesting news coming out of these predictions is perhaps that the ANC is losing some ground, and that Jacob Zuma’s leadership style – from fire pools to shower heads – may at least partly be to blame.

By Sertan Sanderson, 2014