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The ANC has a fight on its hands in Gauteng

By Crystal Orderson, in Cape Town
Posted on Wednesday, 27 March 2019 10:29

Ramaphosa is setting out his stall in Soweto, but the ANC has lost support in the province. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

South Africa's economic heartland, Gauteng, is the prized province for political parties in the weeks leading up to the all-important 8 May election.

With less than 42 days to go, polling results indicate it’s going to be a hard-fought battle for the ANC to retain the province.

In the 2014 election, the ANC got 53.6%, the DA 30.8% and the EFF 10.3%. Turnout for the provincial ballot was nearly 73%.

What the polls are saying:

The Institute of Race Relations’ latest poll, conducted in February and released on 6 March, puts the ANC at 41.6%, the DA at 32.4% and the EFF at 18.2%.

The ANC commissioned its own poll from Wits academic David Everatt. The poll, conducted in December – before load shedding and the release of the ANC’s flawed electoral list – said 50% of registered voters in Gauteng would vote ANC, the DA would get only 14% and the EFF 9%.

The IFP makes a play

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) is also making a play for the Province. Gauteng is the IFP’s second biggest province, and in 2014 it received 0.78% of the vote, compared to almost 11% in its heartland, KwaZulu-Natal.

The IFP has a chequered history in the province and many blamed it for the violence and brutal killings in the Gauteng in the 1990s. But now the party is back and its leader, Mangosuthu Buthelezi, has been in Gauteng drumming up support and rejecting any blame for the violence.

The IFP’s NEC member and close confidante to Buthelezi, Narend Singh told The Africa Report:

“The National Freedom Party was one of the factors in 2014 that we did badly but we have seen there is a resurgence of the IFP in the province and people are interested in what we are saying and offering. […] There are predictions that there is going to be a hung parliament in Gauteng and we as the IFP could make a difference. At the moment we are working with the DA and other parties so that the DA can control the City of Johannesburg. Who knows what will happen after 8 May and the results are announced?”

On the campaign trail

On Human Rights Day, 21 March (also known as Sharpeville Day) all the main parties were on the campaign trail.

At Dlomo Stadium in Emfuleni, the EFF’s Julius Malema told thousands of supporters:

“We will also take the keys to Emfuleni Municipality because it’s being run by corrupt people.” He added: “We will easily take Gauteng should the people of Emfuleni Municipality vote EFF. We said you must send us to Parliament so that we can remove Zuma, where is Zuma today? Where are the Guptas today? We said if you send us to Parliament we will push for a minimum wage, and we did.”

The DA’s Mmusi Maimane was in Bekkersdal and focused on the high unemployment rate:

“Almost four out of 10 South Africans cannot find work. Four out of 10 homes in our country do not have a single job and rely solely on social grants and remittances to sustain the whole household. These people were promised all the rights contained in our constitution, and yet they live like outsiders in their own country.”

South Africa’s number 1 citizen, Cyril Ramaphosa was in his hometown of Soweto recently and acknowledged the problems, but urged voters to give the ANC another chance:

“We’ve made some missteps and we admit that openly, and that is what endears us to our people because when a political party has made mistakes and it admits, the people feel closer to it.”

Ramaphosa said he was confident that voters would give the ANC another chance. In the 2016 local elections, the governing party lost two major metros in Gauteng: the City of Johannesburg and Tshwane.

South Africa’s election by numbers

The latest numbers according to the Independent Electoral Commission:

  • A record number of 48 parties are registered in the national and provincial elections.
  • 26.5 million voters are eligible to cast their votes at the polls on 8 May (an increase of 1,366,748 voters since 2014).
  • Gauteng has the highest number of registered voters at 6.3 million, or 23.8% of the country’s voters, followed by KwaZulu-Natal and the Eastern Cape.
  • 55% of the registered voters are females, and the average age range of the voter is between 30 and 39 years old.

IPSOS poll nationally: Ramaphosa is still a favourite and he gets a ranking of 6.71 out of 10, followed by DA leader Mmusi Maimane at 3.72/10 and Julius Malema at 3.46/10.

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