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Analyst: No rosy elections outlook for ANC

Votes for the ANC could drop from 65.9% to 56.2% in next year’s election, according to predictions from financial services group Nomura.

The drop of almost 10 percentage points will likely come from voters moving across to official opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA) and newly-formed parties Agang and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), said Nomura’s  emerging markets analyst Peter Attard Montalto.

In the upcoming election, expected to take place at the end of April or early May next year, the electorate is predicted to reflect its increasing dissatisfaction with delivery levels from the ruling party when it goes to the polls.

The DA would pick up most of the ANC’s departed votes, predicted Attard Montalto.

“We expect the DA to rise from 16.7% to 27%,” he said. “The absorption of the Independent Democrats, further collapse of the Congress of the People (Cope) and sidelining of more marginal parties should all help, combined with the DA’s proven record of service delivery in the Western Cape.”  

Nevertheless, the ANC would maintain its stronghold in the country’s most affluent province, with Nomura predicting a 40% chance that the DA would take control of Gauteng in a coalition.

Newly formed parties
Despite Attard Montalto’s prediction that newly-formed political party platform Agang would “do well for such a new party”, it will get only around 6% of the vote, he said.

The party, headed by former academic and businessperson Mamphele Ramphela, would likely attract a variety of different groups but would be “unable to connect the dots despite a strong manifesto.”

Fellow newly-formed party EFF, headed by ousted ANC Youth League president Julius Malema, could take a significant chunk of the unemployed and township youth vote. However, its support should not be overestimated, said the analyst. The voting turnout of Malema’s supporters might not be strong.

“We see it getting 4% of the vote, which would give it 16 seats in the National Assembly. This would include Malema, “assuming he is not imprisoned for tax fraud,” said Attard-Montalto.

Third newcomer, the Workers and Socialist Party (Wasp), would face stiff competition from the EFF and would likely battle to garner support beyond miners, he said. Its best-case outcome would be to get enough votes for one top-up seat.  

Apart from the ruling party, Attard Montalto predicted that the other big vote loser would be Cope. “We expect COPE to continue to die a slow death as it has been invisible in the political process since the last election,” he said. “Given its lack of clear management and internal court cases that are ongoing, we see it dropping from 7.4% to 2%.”

​Crucial juncture
Next year’s election is more important than that of 2009, according to Attard Montalto. It comes at a “juncture of a crucial long-run story in South Africa.”

“How the ANC reacts in policy and political terms to a continued loss of electoral support is paramount, and could determine whether it risks losing power in 2019.”

The UK-based analyst had not based his predictions on any detailed public polling information, as none has been made available yet. Given this, he acknowledged that the margin for error in his forecasts was quite large.

“As polling data emerges nearer the election we will continually refine our view,” he said.

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Thalia Holmes
Thalia Holmes

Thalia is a freelance business reporter for the Mail & Guardian. She grew up in Swaziland and lived in the US before returning to South Africa.

She got a cum laude degree in marketing and followed it with another in English literature and psychology before further confusing things by becoming a black economic empowerment (B-BBEE) consultant.

After spending five years hearing the surprised exclamation, "But you're white!", she decided to pursue her latent passion for journalism, and joined the M&G in 2012. 

The next year, she won the Brandhouse Journalist of the Year Award, the Brandhouse Best Online Award and was chosen as one of five finalists from Africa for the German Media Development Award. In 2014, she and a colleague won the Standard Bank Sivukile Multimedia Award. 

She now writes and edits for various publications, but her heart still belongs to the M&G.     

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