Western Cape does the Zille swing

Like a wayward child, the Western Cape is the only province in South Africa not to dance in step with Umshini Wami.

To the ANC’s ­chagrin, voters here have pinned their colours to the mast—and they are decidedly not black, green and gold.

By late Thursday afternoon, even the most ardent ANC supporters were conceding that the opposition was set to klap the ANC out of the provincial legislature.

On Friday morning the DA had a ­majority of 49,36%—strongly suggesting that it will win the province although it was not clear if it would need to form a ­coalition to rule. ANC support on Friday morning was hovering at 31,72%; Cope had 9,01% and Patricia de Lille’s Independent Democrats looked down and out with just 5,4% of the vote.

More than any other factor the massive swing to the DA—it took 27% in 2004—should be put down to the personality and public clout of party leader Helen Zille.

‘I think Zille really managed to enthuse voters to vote not only against the ANC, but also to vote for the DA,” said DA Western Cape spokesperson Coenraad Bezuidenhout.

‘She has extraordinary magnetism and she’s very good at swinging the undecided vote towards her. She’s a visionary leader—people follow her.”

The results clearly show that the days of the DA as a stuffy party of English-speaking whites are over.

Zille’s reorientation of the party towards a racially inclusive message and image enabled her to make some inroads into the African vote and reverse ANC gains in past elections in the Western Cape’s rural hinterland.

In past democratic elections the DA won no more than 1% of the African vote, while early results showed that on this occasion the tally has risen to about 4%.

However, voting patterns still underscore the deep racial divisions in the province.

Like a blue wave, Zille washed across South Africa, speaking Xhosa, Afrikaans and English and hammering the need to stop Jacob Zuma.

If the trend at the halfway point carries through to close of counting—late results from major urban African settlements such as Khaye­litsha could significantly lift the ANC—it will be the first time that any post-1994 party has won the province with a clear majority.

Until now the ANC has managed to rule the province only through coalitions. In 2004 it came to power through a coalition with the New National Party.

Giving Zille a major lift was the fact that almost 90% of white people voted and gave her their overwhelming support. There was also a large swing among rural coloured people away from the ANC to the DA.

Coloured voters—who form about 53% of the Western Cape electorate—appear to have voted in larger numbers than previously and most voted for the DA.

The IEC’s early results showed that close to 70% of coloureds voted. In previous elections the figure was much lower—in some areas less than 30%.

The first results out on Thursday—almost exclusively from white areas with much smaller voter numbers than the townships—showed that the DA won 94% in Edgemead, 85% in Bellville and 90% in Durbanville.

The election may have sounded the death knell for the ID, which also appears to have suffered a major hit nationally.

A tired-looking Western Cape DA leader Theuns Botha, who stayed up all night awaiting the results, said the DA had done better in every voting district in the Western Cape.

‘Our voters, and even people who have never voted for us before, have amassed like a military force to give us the mandate to rule,” said Botha. ‘The only people in the province who didn’t come out to vote are the dead. It’s amazing.”

By late on Thursday, with large parts of the township vote not yet counted, statistics showed that than 70% of voters made their cross.

ANC premier Lynne Brown put a brave face on matters, saying the ANC still had plans to stay in power. ‘Coalition politics is part of the Western Cape. Throughout the years it has been like that. It’s always an option for the ANC,” she said.

‘But if I have to move out [of the premier’s residence], it’s good. Luckily I didn’t come here with much more that my toothbrush, music and books. If the ANC loses to the DA, I will move out by May 6.”

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