Durban - The DA and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) appear to have emerged with the best election chances in the opposition rankings, except in KwaZulu-Natal, where it’s between the IFP and National Freedom Party (NFP), according to nine provincial surveys published by the Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa.
In the Western Cape, where the DA governs, the situation is reversed, with the ANC finding itself in the opposition and hosting an election campaign often characterised by pointing to racial bias in DA policies.
The DA launched its “Western Cape Story” as part of showcasing its successes in the province it governs.
However, the ANC has pulled out all the stops, bringing senior ANC officials to the province and hosting a birthday party for President Jacob Zuma.
“The main problem with the campaigns in the Western Cape is the way in which political parties direct messages aimed at ‘coloured votes’ and appeals to entice the ‘coloured electorate’. In many cases the messages are directed aggressively at opposing parties and party leaders,” said Dr Cherrel Africa, University of the Western Cape’s political studies head.
In KZN, the IFP and NFP have hit the ground focused on Zululand District Municipality, while the DA and Minority Front appear to concentrate mainly on minority votes and AgangSA is not contesting for representation in the provincial legislature.
However, the opposition parties compete with a strong ANC, which has brought Zuma repeatedly to the province to campaign, according to Shauna Mottiar, a post-doctoral fellow at the University of KZN Centre for Civil Society.
Social media was an important campaign tool, at least for the ANC and DA, with 100 000 and 68 000 Twitter followers respectively, against the IFP’s 38 and the NFP’s 52 Twitter followers, Mottiar wrote.
In Gauteng, the DA focused on jobs, the economy and e-tolls, but fell back on “its preoccupation” of criticising the ANC, even as an argument could easily be made that its premier candidate was the embodiment of the success of ANC polices: “A young black man from Soweto, who is the child of a cashier and a factory worker, was able to be successful in the face of the legacy of apartheid,” wrote independent researcher Wassem Holland.
The latest Election Update noted the EFF making its presence known across provinces: the North-West, by launching its election manifesto in Marikana, where police in August 2012 killed 34 striking miners, to the sparsely populated Northern Cape, which has traditionally voted ANC in large percentages since 1994, and Cape Town, where the party hosted the Western Cape Social Revolution Party at a popular nightclub.
Regarding the DA, the update noted that, in several cases, even if the DA successfully campaigned at grassroots level, as in the North-West, where it has made significant gains, one drawback was its focus on criticising the governing ANC.
While the DA recently revised its polling target to around 25 percent, down from the 30 percent touted last year, the EFF has consistently emerged with between 4 percent to just under 7 percent of the vote come May 7 in various pre-election voter sentiment surveys.