Despite its election victory, the ANC has seen a gradual drop in support, which begs the question: how "deeply rooted" is the party in SA's heart?
The ANC has seen a decline in support in the past two elections, with four of the eight provinces in which the party has won recording a decrease. In three provinces, support for the party increased by a small percentage.
This raises questions regarding party president Jacob Zuma’s assertion that the election results were evidence of how “deeply rooted the ANC is in the hearts and minds of the overwhelming majority of South Africans”.
At 62%, support for the ANC has subsided to where it was in 1994 after an increase to 66% and 68% under former president Thabo Mbeki.
From 25.4-million registered voters, 18-million cast their votes, and over 11.4-million voted for the ANC. About seven million voters chose to stay away.
Limpopo and Mpumalanga, which recorded the highest number of votes for the ruling party in 2009 – at 85% – have both now decreased to 78%. Support in the Free State dropped from 71% to 67% and in North West from 73% to 67%, while the support in Gauteng – the country’s economic heartland – fell by 11% from 64% to 53%.
Only the Northern Cape recorded an increase for the party from 60% in 2009 to 64%. KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape improved by a percentage point each, to 64% and 70% respectively.
In the Western Cape, the only province run by the opposition DA, the ANC only managed to increase its support by 1%, to 32%.
The big surprise was the DA’s strong showing in Zuma’s home province KwaZulu-Natal, where the party is now occupying the official opposition spot with 10 seats. In the North West, the Economic Freedom Fighters became the official opposition with 13% of the vote, giving the party five seats in the provincial legislature.
This downward spiral has raised concern within the ANC about the local government elections in 2016, with big metropolitan cities also seeing a decline in votes.
Ekurhuleni Metro recorded an 11% decline, with the ANC receiving 56% from 67% in 2009. The DA received 26% – a 6% increase from 2009 – while the EFF received 10% of the metro’s vote. For the first time since 1994, the ANC registered less than 50% – coming in at 49% – in Nelson Mandela Bay Metro. If this trend continues in the 2016 municipal elections, the ANC will have a fight on its hands to retain all the metros it controls.
Zuma however glossed over the negatives and focused on the party’s victory.
During his speech after the election results were announced he said the victory reaffirmed that the party “remains the only true hope for the majority of our people, particularly the poor and the working class”.
“We will use this victory to continue delivering water, electricity, roads, schools, clinics, good schools and all amenities that enable our people to live in decent human settlements, in both urban and rural areas,” said Zuma.
According to Statistics South Africa, 32.6-million South Africans were eligible to vote, but many did not register. At 11.4-million votes, those that went to the ANC represent 35% of the voting age population.
10 facts about the elections 7.2-million:
- The number of people added to the voters roll since 1999 – more than two-million people every election.
- 2.4-million: (34%) of those voters went to the polls on May 7.
- 835 591: The number of votes the ANC has gained since the 1999 election.
- 2.6-million: The number of votes the DA has gained since the 1999 election. That is 1.7-million more than the ANC added.
- 1.17-million: The number of votes the EFF won in this year’s election.
- 1.19-million: The number of votes Cope lost in this election.
- 16: The drop in voter turnout since 1999 in percentage points. 89.3% (1999); 76.7% (2004); 77.3% (2009); 73.5% (2014)
- 250 000: The approximate number of spoilt votes in the past four elections. 1999: 251 320 (1.5%); 2004: 250 887 (1.6%); 2009: 239 237 (1.3%); 2014: 252 274 (1.4%)
- 8: Of the 13 parties on the new national assembly, eight got seats with less votes than the spoilt votes. They are the Freedom Front Plus, the Pan Africanist Congress, the African Christian Democratic Party, the United Democratic Movement, the Congress of the People, the African People’s Convention, Agang SA and the African Independent Congress.
- 6: The number of political parties that have won a million votes or more in South Africa’s democratic elections. They are the ANC, the DA, Cope, the Inkatha Freedom Party, the Economic Freedom Fighters and the National Party.