South African Elections 2014: Vox Populi – The People have Spoken

A Personal View  –  9th May 2014

Barring a dramatic event, the final outcome of the 2014 Election is already known with the ANC retaining power but with a reduced majority. The Democratic Alliance made substantial gains by increasing their share of the vote by 29.8%. Many of the smaller parties were all but eliminated with the Cope’s tally being reduced by 90%, the once powerful IFP by 44.4% and the ACDP by 33.3%. Even the much favoured Agang did not make an impression as it only gathered one seat, that of Mamphela Ramphele.

Before we analyse the results in some depth, let us consider the factors used by voters to decide which party should receive their vote. It is highly unlikely that more than a few percent of the electoral base would have founded their decision upon a rigorous comparison of the various parties’ Election Manifestos.  In the overwhelming majority of the cases, there would have been no rational engagement and interrogation of the various parties’ policies and the consequences thereof.

Instead the support for a political party is based upon the following factors:

  • Their perceptions
  • The race of the party. I would submit that in South Africa this factor accounts for 60%+ of one’s decision and this will be so for another decade at least
  • One’s social standing and class
  • Whether one can relate to the party

Despite this, the average voter is in denial about their decision making process. Instead they will attribute it to an array of irrelevant factors. This fact was glaringly highlighted on the evening drive show on 702 Talk Radio where the presenter Xolani Gwala challenged the listeners to provide their reasons for voting for a particular party. Amongst the various nonsensical calls was the one from a woman, presumably black, who stated that she had never voted since 1994 but now that the ANC was “under attack” she would definitely be voting for them.

If the voting patterns in South Africa were not so race based, surely one would have expected the impact of Marikana & especially Nkandla to have a much greater impact upon the outcome. As Jacob Zuma commented, nobody raised the issue at any meeting where he was present. In fact the newspapers have gone so far as to classify Nkandla as a middle class issue which was of no relevance to the ANC’s voting base. What this issue could also highlight is that despite dissatisfaction with the ANC especially as regards Service Delivery, when push comes to shove, the traditional ANC supporters will not make the connection that their vote for anyone but the ANC is what will make the difference to their living conditions.

The furore about malfeasance in the ANC did have an effect but it was merely a minor ripple when Ronnie Kasrils and Nosiswe Madlala-Routledge led the Sidikiwe Vukani – the Vote No – Campaign. Apart from various scathing attacks by a few ANC heavy weights on Kasrils et al which only had the effect of raising the profile of the campaign, this crusade did not gain traction. Instead Ronnie Kasrils was cast as an incompetent member despite having been a Cabinet Member for 14 years. The effect of this campaign was so negligible in the final numbers as to be unnoticeable.

The implosion of Cope was inevitable given the level of internal leadership ructions that they have experienced since their inception. Given birth due to their dissatisfaction with the ANC, they were not united around a political vision or philosophy but rather it was based upon their anger at the ANC’s actions against Mbeki. They failed the litmus test of a political party and have suffered the consequences. Being largely based around Mosiuoa Lekota, their longevity is doubtful. At best they will be consumed by another party but given the fact that they bring “nothing to the party” (sic), it will not be a merger but absorption.

Mamphela Ramphele with her undoubted Struggle Credential so beloved by portions of the electorate, made no impression as leader of Agang. I expected that they would obtain at least 1% of the vote but instead they obtained a derisory .2%. As The Times newspaper commented in an editorial this morning, the DA “probably dodged a bullet” by not merging with Agang. I always believed that the price being paid for an unknown draw card was too great for the DA with its slick well-oiled machinery and growing support base. Whilst I concur with Helen Zille’s ideal to attract blacks in greater numbers, Mamphela came at too high a price. What would the rising black stars within the DA such as Lindiwe Mazibuko and Mmusi Maimane have felt if Mamphela had been parachuted into such a senior leadership position? Whilst I concur that Mamphela is a far more seasoned and experienced person, her acceptance of the position unless handled delicately could have created resentment in certain quarters.

What of young Julius and his recent creation, the Economic Freedom Fighters. At heart still a true ANC supporter but having been rejected by his lover, his hurt and recriminations were there for all to hear. He commenced his campaign in the platinum belt amongst the mineworkers at Marikana. Instead of the insouciant couldn’t-care-less-attitude of the NUM and the ANC, Julius in a master stroke showed compassion and empathy to the grieving people. He was handsomely repaid on the 7th May with an estimated 30% of the voters in the region casting them in favour of the EFF. Even though his 6% is less than the 7% garnered by Cope in the last election, it is nevertheless an impressive achievement. As a product of Julius Malema, the EFF’s future will depend on Julius’ own fate. Still lingering around him is a huge unsettled tax bill which SARS is unlikely to write off. Simply put, it is millstone which he will bear like those four shots in anger by Oscar Pistorius unless some wealthy BEE benefactor bails him out. The other imponderable is the EFF’s pedigree. Having been under the tutelage of an ill-disciplined party and not possessing the same intellectual abilities as their predecessors in the ANCYL and uncouth to boot, the tedium of parliamentary portfolio meetings will not be to their liking.

In marked contrast to the other smaller parties, the Democratic Party had a superb day. Undoubtedly champagne corks have been popping in the DA Offices since the situation became discernible. From a meagre 1.8% of the vote in 1994 to an impressive 21.8% at these elections would certainly satisfy everybody but the most churlish. Apart from an abortive attempt to appoint Mamphela as the DA President, no hiccups were experienced by the DA.

Mmusi MaimaneThe negative campaign in the Western Cape by the ANC seems to have backfired horribly on them. First in 2012 was the ANC’s endeavour to make the Western Cape “ungovernable”, then came the “poo-litics” episode where human faeces was dumped on various public buildings. Finally what drove the Coloured Vote firmly into the DA camp was the announcement that BEE targets in the Western Cape would he based on national demographics. Ultimately that would mean that despite being the demographic majority in the region, they would only be entitled to 5% of the jobs and not greater than 50% as is currently the norm.

Generally the ANC played dirty using the Race Card on numerous occasions. For this they should be ashamed. Instead of providing compelling reasons to vote ANC, they used such unethical, unprincipled and unscrupulous methods as blocking DA advertisements on television and the misuse of government resources for their own ends.

Normally the Party Leader is at the forefront of the party’s campaign. Instead Jacob Zuma took a back seat probably due to the fact that he is soiled goods. I will not stoop to calling him a “used condom” like the uncouth Julius commenting on what Zuma would do to Hlaudi Motsoeneng when he has finished using him. What Julius forgot was that Zuma in spite of leading the morality campaign some time ago, appears never to use condoms himself.

The 2014 elections reveal that the ANC is past their zenith of their supremacy. In 1994 they obtained 63% of the vote, whereas they have now received less than that at 61.3%. This is a scathing indictment of Zuma’s leadership but what the ANC should be proud of is the destruction of the IPF. From being a powerhouse in 1994, they are now a shadow of their former selves. Today Mangosutu Buthelezi is probably languishing in despair at his adult child going so astray. He should glance no further than himself as the ANC steadfastly eroded his control in its rural fastnesses. Instead of relinquishing some control, he held the reins of power ever tighter as he refused to acknowledge the wise words of wisdom proffered to him. Now saddled with a party which is Buthelezi and nobody else, it will inexorably fade away as Mangosutu wanes in his dotage.

I have been enthralled & enraged in equal measure during this election but what of the future? With tepid economic growth and bubbling unemployment, the ANC’s focus must be on the economy. The likes of the rising star within the ANC, Malusi Gigaba has to be reined in. The public finances cannot be the purse of the state enterprises. The recent call by Elias Masilela, Chief Executive at the PIC, illustrates a woeful lack of understanding of economics when he claimed that local ownership is the way to boost the economy. This appears to be the prevailing dogma within the ANC and has already been widely discredited over the years. Surely if the State is better at managing assets than the Private Sector, then why are South Africa’s Public Enterprises in such a parlous state? This misguided belief needs to be exorcised. To amplify my point, why does every Public Enterprise suffer blood-letting and ructions on a regular basis? Most cannot retain their Chief Executive for more than a few years before exogenous political pressure boils over and a new Chief Executive is appointed with a new Board and new underlings. This alone is a scathing indictment of the dead hand of the state’s interference in public companies.

Finally what of the longer term prognosis for political change in South Africa? By this I mean the removal of the ANC from power democratically?

With the voting pattern largely being determined on a race and social standing basis, the DA is unlikely to usurp power from the ANC anytime soon. My personal contention is that it will be the implosion of the ANC itself which will facilitate this change. The initial glue that bound the ANC together was their implacable opposition to Apartheid. The longer that the ANC is in power, the more diluted that that glue will become. The ANC will ultimately shatter into its relevant constituent parts; the Black Nationalists, the Socialists and the Liberal Democrats. The tensions within Cosatu mirror those within the ANC. The current inertia within the ANC reflects the current tensions between its various constituencies. The ties that bound them together are fraying inexorably. With the current infusion of competent blacks into the DA, it should be capable of capitalising upon such uproar and disillusionment within the future ANC. Together with alliances with factions of the ANC, the DA will be well-placed to attain its objective: power.

The final question relates to timing.

Roll on 2024.

 

 

Number of seats per party

Event

Date

ANC

DP / DA

NP / NNP

COPE

EFF

IFP

VF / VF+

UDM

ACDP

ID

Others

Total

1994 election

27-Apr-94

252

7

82

43

9

2

5

400
1999 election

02-Jun-99

266

38

28

34

14

6

3

11

400

2003 floor-crossing

04-Apr-03

275

46

20

31

3

4

7

1

13

400

2004 election

14-Apr-04

279

50

7

28

4

9

7

7

9

400

2005 floor-crossing

15-Sep-05

293

47

23

4

6

4

5

18

400

2007 floor-crossing

15-Sep-07

297

47

23

4

6

4

4

15

400

2009 election

22-Apr-09

264

67

30

18

4

4

3

4

6

400

2014 election

07-May-14

245

87

3

25

10

4

4

2

20

400

 

Percentage of the votes cast:

Event

Date

ANC

DP / DA

NP / NNP

COPE

EFF

IFP

VF / VF+

UDM

ACDP

ID

Others

1994 election

27-Apr-94

63.0%

1.8%

20.5%

0.0%

10.8%

2.3%

0.5%

1.3%

1999 election

02-Jun-99

66.5%

9.5%

7.0%

0.0%

8.5%

3.5%

1.5%

0.8%

2.8%

2003 floor-crossing

04-Apr-03

68.8%

11.5%

5.0%

0.0%

7.8%

0.8%

1.0%

1.8%

0.3%

3.3%

2004 election

14-Apr-04

69.8%

12.5%

1.8%

0.0%

7.0%

1.0%

2.3%

1.8%

1.8%

2.3%

2005 floor-crossing

15-Sep-05

73.3%

11.8%

0.0%

5.8%

1.0%

1.5%

1.0%

1.3%

4.5%

2007 floor-crossing

15-Sep-07

74.3%

11.8%

0.0%

5.8%

1.0%

1.5%

1.0%

1.0%

3.8%

2009 election

22-Apr-09

66.0%

16.8%

7.5%

0.0%

4.5%

1.0%

1.0%

0.8%

1.0%

1.5%

2014 election

07-May-14

61.3%

21.8%

0.8%

6.3%

2.5%

1.0%

1.0%

0.5%

5.0%

Note: The 2014 results were as at 16:30 on the 9th May 2014

 

 

 

 


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