Posted on :
19 May, 2011
19 May, 2011
South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance increased its share of the vote in municipal elections yesterday, while probably failing to win control of any more major cities, according to partial results.
With about 6.4 million ballots counted, the African National Congress had 61.7 percent of the vote, while the DA had 25.6 percent, said the Independent Electoral Commission in Pretoria, the capital. That compares with 65.9 percent and 16.6 percent respectively in the national election in 2009.
2011 Municipal Election Results in South Africa
“The ANC should be worried,” Prince Mashele, executive- director for the Johannesburg-based Centre for Politics and Research, said in an interview. “We now know the DA is a permanent feature of the political landscape. This boost will set them up for the long-term.”
The ANC has won every election since 1994 with more than 60 percent of the vote as many black supporters remain loyal to the party because of its decades-long fight against apartheid. Now, rising unemployment in a country where one in four people are without jobs, and a lack of basic services such as sanitation in many townships, is beginning to weaken that support.
Still, the DA’s share of the final vote may slip to between 20 percent and 22 percent, Mashele said. DA electoral strategist Ryan Coetzee also said the party was unlikely to win control of any major city outside Cape Town, which it already governs.
“There’s been a shift in support from black voters,” Coetzee said. “It’s a matter of momentum growth. It sets up a platform for future growth and for 2014,” when the next parliamentary elections are held.
The ANC could lose a few percentage points nationwide, party Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe told reporters in Pretoria today.
“Any loss is a wake-up call for a political party,” he said. “But we must remember that our traditional voter base doesn’t always come in great numbers for the local elections.”
Preliminary results showed the DA leading with 54.1 percent in Johannesburg against the ANC’s 40.8 percent. The DA has garnered 80.3 percent of the votes counted in Cape Town, while the ANC has 15.4 percent. In the capital Pretoria, the ANC extended its lead, with 54.6 percent of the current count and the DA with 40.5 percent. In Nelson Mandela Bay, which runs the city ofPort Elizabeth, the ANC won 51 percent, while the DA was second at 41.6 percent.
The DA’s share of the ballot in many of these cities will decline as more votes are counted, Coetzee said.
The decline in the ANC’s support may “sharpen leadership battles” within Africa’s oldest political movement, Ebrahim Fakir, an analyst with the Centre for Policy Studies, said in an interview in Pretoria. “They could also become more populist as they seek to attract discontented voters.”
The ANC Youth League has been campaigning for the nationalization of South Africa’s mines, banks and land, arguing that the country’s assets should benefit the population more directly.
A May 16 survey by polling company Ipsos Markinor showed the ANC’s support may drop to 59 percent from 66 percent in 2009. The poll of 2,050 likely voters gave the DA 19 percent.
President Jacob Zuma has highlighted the ANC’s role in bringing about democracy and its achievements since taking power, including building 2.7 million homes for the poor and giving 6 million households access to clean water.
“This vote was fought for and people paid a supreme sacrifice,” Zuma said after casting his ballot in his home village of Nkandla in the eastern KwaZulu-Natal province.
Africa’s biggest economy shed 14,000 jobs in the first quarter, pushing the unemployment rateto 25 percent, the highest of 61 countries tracked by Bloomberg. South Africa had a record 111 protests against a lack of basic services such as water and housing last year, according to Johannesburg-based Municipal IQ, an independent local government research group.
“I voted for change,” Lebogang Mohlue, 18, a student, said yesterday after voting for the DA in Johannesburg’s Brixton area. “I want to have a job when I finish my studies so I voted for a party that can help create jobs.”
The rand has declined 4.4 percent against the dollar this year, while the benchmark FTSE/JSE Africa All Share Index has fallen 0.9 percent. The currency slid 0.2 percent to 6.932 by 10:42 a.m. in Johannesburg.
The ANC won outright control of 200 of South Africa’s 283 municipalities in 2006, while the DA won 7 and formed ruling coalitions in 11 others. Last year, the Independent Democrats, which won 0.9 of the national vote in 2009’s parliamentary elections, agreed to disband and merge with the DA.
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Andrew J. Barden at [email protected].