South Africa: Political parties make their final campaign push before elections

By Crystal Orderson

Posted on Monday, 29 April 2019 19:03
Musa Masina lines up election posters with the face of ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa, before hanging them on street poles in Soweto, South Africa, March 12, 2019. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

As voting day draws near, political leaders in South Africa ready themselves to hit the campaign trail in a final attempt to woo undecided voters

With a week to go before the most important and competitive elections since 1994, political parties in South Africa are wrapping up their campaigns this week. Parties have been criss-crossing the country to ‘sell’ the good story to voters. There are close to 36 million registered voters and they have a choice of more than 40 political parties. But many voters remain undecided.

One of them is the 29-year-old Megan Bobotyana.

She tells The Africa Report that she is still undecided on which party to vote for on 8 May. “If we look at that big three, I don’t think there’s any party that stands for the people. For instance the EFF’s [Julius] Malema was part of the ANC and he’s like a sulking child; the ANC has made some serious mistakes; I think they have just made some bad choices and the DA is still viewed as a white party and they don’t bring anything original,” explains Bobotyana who says she is yet to see a party that is “really” for the people.

There has been a flurry of election polling data, all of which still show the African National Congress (ANC) in pole position. The only difference is the percentage of the vote they will receive depending on voter turnout. According to the latest IPSOS poll results, published by the City Press:

  • The ANC has 56.9% support. In the 2014 election, the party won 62.2% of the vote.
  • Ipsos says the Democratic Alliance (DA)’s support stands at 15%. The DA secured 22% of the vote in the 2014 national elections.
  • The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) received 9.5% while in 2014, the party received 6.4% of the vote.

Ipsos says the poll was conducted between March and April 2019 using a demographically representative sample of over 3,600 people and shows the top three parties receiving the lion share of the vote, albeit there is a drop in the number of voters for the ANC and the DA and an increase in support for the EFF.

Campaign message

The ANC’s deputy secretary-general, Jessie Duarte who was campaigning in Cape Town told party faithfuls that the ANC’s policies are pro-poor and the party has admitted its failures. “We have not created the jobs we needed to create but we are working on it but we are committed that poor people have access to a social grant,” she said. She also took a swipe at the DA who is running the provincial government that there was an ‘unequal’ distribution of services in the province and the ANC must ‘liberate’ the Western Cape.

The DA’s Mmusi Maimane told supporters at the Waaihoek Wesleyan Church in Mangaung, Free State that on the eve of this historic election, “each of us stands before a choice that will either take our country forward towards a bright future or drag us even further back towards poverty, unemployment and despair”. He said South Africans must “choose between a forward-looking DA government with a bold plan to turn our country around, or another five years under this ANC government with its crippling corruption and its policies from the time the rest of the world has already forgotten”.

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP)’s Mangosuthu Buthelezi told supporters in KwaMashu, KwaZulu-Natal that with 48 parties contesting the election voters “would need to exercise caution to find the right name for their cross… We have never had so many parties contest an election. But then we have never had so much frustration over the state of our nation”.

Final push

The ANC, DA, EFF and IFP will be holding their final rallies this weekend. The three main parties are holding their rallies in Gauteng, which is seen as the battleground province. The province has the highest number of registered voters with a total of 23,8% of people registered to vote in the economic heartland of the country.

ANC party head Cyril Ramaphosa is the main speaker at the ANC’s Siyanqoba rally; the DA is holding its Phetogo (meaning ‘change’ in Sepedi) rally at the Dobsonville Stadium in Johannesburg and the EFF will hold its Tshela Thupa rally at the Orlando stadium in Soweto. The IFP’s final rally is in its heartland, KwaZulu-Natal in Ulundi.

With a week left before the crucial vote no party can sit on their laurels if they want to sway undecided voters like Bobotyane to their side.

Understand Africa's tomorrow... today

We believe that Africa is poorly represented, and badly under-estimated. Beyond the vast opportunity manifest in African markets, we highlight people who make a difference; leaders turning the tide, youth driving change, and an indefatigable business community. That is what we believe will change the continent, and that is what we report on. With hard-hitting investigations, innovative analysis and deep dives into countries and sectors, The Africa Report delivers the insight you need.

View subscription options