Take a bow, South African voters

Voter turnout for the local government elections was the highest to date, IEC chief electoral officer Pansy Tlakula said on Saturday.

As results of the local government elections streamed in it became increasingly obvious that this election was becoming a war between the African National Congress and the Democratic Alliance. The Mail&Guardian asked smaller parties what they thought about the possibility of coalitions and if they thought South Africa was becoming a two-party state.

“I am pleased to announce that the voter turnout is 57.6%,” she said at a ceremony announcing the results of the poll at the Independent Electoral Commision’s election centre in Pretoria.

The last two municipal polls saw a 48% turnout.

‘Bread and butter issues’
President Jacob Zuma said the elections had placed the delivery of basic services under the spotlight.

“People identified service delivery as an issue … they decided that this election will be about the delivery of basic services,” Zuma said at the IEC centre.

“It came down to bread and butter issues as any municipal election should … It indicates how citizens understand democracy.”

Zuma said this election catapulted local government into the “mainstream” and would dispel perceptions that local government was the least important state sphere.

“We are encouraged by the increase in voter turnout which has defied predictions of voter apathy,” he said.

Zuma urged parties and their councillors to look forward and work together to serve the people.

“Now that the fierce campaigning and competition for votes has ended, it’s time for the political parties to start working together.

“Parties must put aside their differences and join hands to improve the lives of the people,” he said.

He added that national government was ready to work with the provinces and local municipalities to bring about the change called for by the “electorate”.

To incoming councillors, he said: “You have to accept that you are a servant of the people. You account to the people that you serve.”

Local government had to work better, he added, and councillors had to be supported as they had a lot of work to do.

“Our people have declared their will through the ballot box and ours is to obey and fulfill their wishes.”

Zuma wrapped up proceedings at the IEC centre, commending the commission and their ability to deliver a “free and fair election at all times”.

The African National Congress won 5 633 seats, making them the largest party in 198 councils.

They were followed by the Democratic Alliance with 1 555 seats. They were the largest party in 18 municipal councils, including Cape Town.

The Inkatha Freedom Part took control of five councils while the new National Freedom Party took two councils. The two parties secured 352 and 224 seats nationally while the Congress of the People secured 236 seats nationally.

Independent candidates secured 140 seats at various municipalities while the United Democratic Movement secured 65 seats and the African Christian Democratic Party 40 seats.

The ANC won 63.65% of the total vote, while the DA took 21.97%, followed by the IFP with 3,94%. The NFP with 2.58% and Cope received 2,33%.

Ahead of the announcement of the results, ANC Youth League leader Julius Malema said on Twitter that he was pleased that the DA retained second place in the election race.

“If the DA had won then that would’ve been the end of the world as we know it,” he said.

“ANC won so no rapture today.”

DA leader Helen Zille tweeted that she was exhausted and thanked her supporters.

She also corrected one of her followers who had referred to her as an “apartheid activist”.

“Just one correction, I was an anti-apartheid activist, not an apartheid activist between 1968 and 1994,” she said.

ANC president Jacob Zuma thanked voters on Twitter.

“I feel good about the elections. It has brought many lessons to many of us.” – Sapa

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