Divergent polls continue to emerge with just a day until South Africans head to the polls to elect the 6th democratic administration.
Ipsos on Tuesday released a poll indicating that the ANC may take as much as 65% of the national vote on Wednesday, with a high voter turnout favouring the governing party.
This comes a day after another poll from the SA Institute of Race Relations predicted that the ANC would fall to an all time low of 53%, with a 70% turnout. This poll found that the ANC was at risk of losing the Gauteng province as well as falling below the 50% point in KwaZulu Natal.
Analysts have warned against opinion polls as an accurate measure of sentiment ahead of the election, due mainly to the divergent outcomes of all the studies available.
According to the Ipsos poll, conducted during March and April, the ANC will take above 61% of the vote regardless of voter turnout, but will perform best under conditions of high voter turnout.
Both high and low voter turnouts would favour the ANC, with the worst performance of 61 % predicted under conditions of moderate turnout.
The performance of other parties showed less variation based on turnout than that of the ANC.
Most polls indicate that turnout will be the key factor in driving performance in the general election.
The Ipsos poll was conducted among 3 600 households around the country among a sample of randomly selected respondents.
The poll also found that the Democratic Alliance would attain between 17% and 18% of the vote, depending on voter turnout, with the Economic Freedom between 10 % and 11 %.
The Inkatha Freedom Party’s performance was predicted to improve slightly on 2016 at 3%, with the bulk of the party’s support remaining in KwaZulu-Natal.
The poll was unable to predict accurately what share of the vote the plethora of new parties on the ballot — there are 48 parties in total this election — but predicted that collectively they should take around 2% of the vote.
The poll found the DA was likely to fail in its bid to take the Northern Cape and Gauteng and that it might need a coalition partner to retain control of the Western Cape.
The ANC was likely to score a majority of beyond 66% in North West, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, with the EFF likely to emerge as the official opposition in all three provinces and the Free State.
The poll further predicted that the ANC would take a majority of votes in KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and Gauteng, with the outcome still being unclear for the Free State and Northern Cape provinces.
The survey found that while the ANC was likely to maintain its majority, more than 52% of voters felt South Africa was going in the wrong direction, with only 33% of registered voters saying they believed the country was heading the right way.
The positive results predicted for the ANC will be a major morale boost for the party, which has been hard pressed by its own internal battles and public revelations around state capture and corruption.
The party’s KwaZulu-Natal chairperson, Sihle Zikalala, on Tuesday poured water on speculation that the party was preparing for potential post-poll coalitions.
At a briefing at the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) KwaZulu-Natal provincial elections centre on Tuesday, Zikalala said there had been “no discussion” about any coalitions nationally or provincially.
“The ANC has been sweeping everything, that includes in the so-called IFP areas. Right now we are governing the eNdumeni Municipality, which we have taken from the DA-IFP coalition. We have also won a number of wards in Abaqulusi, Mtubatuba, uMhlabuyalingana and Bergville. What we know is that people who support the ANC in KwaZulu-Natal are growing,” he said.