Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille sent a tweet over the weekend saying a newspaper graphic on the local government election results was incorrect.
She pointed to a discrepancy in the national outcome of the elections, which gave the African National Congress (ANC) 63.65% of the vote, and the DA 21.9%. Zille said the results should have shown the ANC with 62.8% of the vote and the DA with 23.9%.
For the DA, this would mean the difference between attaining nearly a quarter of the public’s support and winning a fifth of this support.
The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has put the DA’s results at 21.9% and most media reports have reflected this figure. However, a statement released by the DA says its support sits at 24%.
As Business Day columnist Tim Cohen explains, the reason for this discrepancy is that the IEC calculated the percentage of support for parties based on an average from all the votes cast. This included a third vote that was given to people who reside in areas outside of metros. These votes count towards the election of a district council for that area.
Should these votes not be added into the final total, the DA would be sitting with 23.9% of votes, and the ANC would then have 62.8%.
DA strategist Ryan Coetzee says it is “standard practice” to average the numbers of the first and second ballot.
“You can only measure a party’s support by taking into account ballots that all people have had access to,” he added.
‘Wiping out’ smaller parties
During the 2006 local government elections the national results did not include votes for district councils. The ANC got 65.7% of the vote and the DA 16.3%.
The significance of these numbers is that the DA’s popularity has grown by more than 7%, while the ANC’s support base has decreased by 3%.
Zwelinzima Vavi, Congress of South African Trade Unions secretary general, said last week that the DA is not taking support from the ANC, but rather it, along with the Congress of the People, was “wiping out” smaller parties.
“No party is in trouble with 60%.”