To enjoy the full Mail & Guardian online experience: please upgrade your browser
16 Aug 2008 06:00
South Africa’s opposition parties are failing to cash in on the infighting in the ANC, a recent survey indicates.
A Markinor survey conducted in May, the results of which have not yet been released, indicates that opposition parties have less public support than in the 2004 elections.
But Mari Harris of Markinor, which conducted the poll, emphasised that there was still considerable time before the elections, which are likely to take place next April. “No party has officially launched its election campaign yet, so it is too early to predict anything decisive,” Harris said.
According to the survey of 3 500 respondents in rural and urban areas, none of the opposition parties would win more than 10% of the vote if the country went to the polls today.
This is in strong contrast with a confidential internal survey conducted by the ANC, which reportedly found that the party might not retain its hold over the Western Cape, Northern Cape and Gauteng. Harris also stressed that 6% of the respondents remained unclear about which party they would vote for—the third largest group after supporters of the ANC and the DA. “Even if they are unhappy with the ANC, they feel they have no alternative. What is obvious from the results is that there is still no party that is emerging as a strong alternative to the ANC.”
The survey does not suggest there will be a significant protest stayaway from the polling stations. It indicates an election turnout of almost 80%, roughly the same as in 2004.
Chief whip and policy convenor for the Independent Democrats Lance Greyling was unfazed, saying his party aims to garner a million votes in the elections, or 5% of the vote, depending on the turnout.
“We see a pattern in by-elections that we are taking ANC votes but also bringing in new people who haven’t voted before. They include younger people—we seem to attract them—but also those people who feel marginalised and neglected by other political parties.”
The DA’s federal chairperson James Selfe said his party accepts that the dissonance in the ANC will not necessarily translate into votes for the DA.
“In the ANC two things might happen: a lot of people might be turned off by the infighting and stay away [from the polls], which is most likely. Others might vote for someone else.
“But the potential for us to capitalise on this disaffection might be countered by [ANC president] Jacob Zuma. As a populist he might bring people back who stayed away before because of the bad service delivery under [President Thabo] Mbeki.”
IFP national chairperson Musa Zondi said a weakened ANC will help the IFP at the polls. But trying to capitalise on the infighting in the ANC is a “dangerous strategy to follow”.
“We are getting vibes from the ground that there are many members of the ANC who are disgruntled. They might withhold their vote. That will weaken the ANC and reduce their overwhelming majority,” he said.
Neither the DA nor the IFP would reveal their election targets.
Read more from Mandy Rossouw
Create Account | Lost Your Password?