Pretoria - The ANC has all but declared victory, with its tally at 63 percent of the total vote in the elections.
In what was effectively an early victory lap, President Jacob Zuma made a quick visit on Thursday night to the Independent Electoral Commission’s results operations centre in Pretoria, where he went on a walkabout around 8pm.
He greeted DA leader Helen Zille and United Democratic Movement president Bantu Holomisa, exchanging banter and laughter.
The party’s prediction, although not confirmed by the IEC, is in line with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s projection, which puts the ANC at 63.3 percent.
Several top ANC officials agreed with the CSIR’s projection.
While the Economic Freedom Fighters was by far the best new performer, coming in at number three, other opposition parties like the IFP and Cope were all but obliterated from the political scene.
The exception was relative newcomer and IFP breakaway National Freedom Party (NFP), led by Zanele Magwaza-Msibi, which is guaranteed a few seats in Parliament.
AgangSA was one of the worst performers, failing to garner even a single seat, following its abortive merger with the DA.
The polls saw the EFF become the official opposition in Limpopo, while the DA trumped Cope to the main opposition benches in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu-Natal.
According to the results at the IEC’s results centre on Friday morning, the DA have 22.03 percent of the votes with 3 605 019 votes nationally in Wednesday's elections after 94.09 percent of votes had been counted.
In the 2009 elections, the DA received 16.66 percent of votes, while it received 12.37 percent of the votes in the 2004 elections.
The ANC had 62.51 percent of the votes by 6am with 10 228 644 votes.
In the 2009 elections the ruling party won with 65.9 percent of the votes.
In 2004, the ANC won with 69.69 percent compared to the 66.35 percent in 1999 and the 62.65 percent in 1994.
On Friday, the early results indicated that the new kids on the block, the EFF were in third place with 5.95 percent of the votes and 973 369 votes.
The Inkatha Freedom Party had 404 692 (2.47 percent) votes according to Friday morning's early results.
The National Freedom Party remained in fifth place with 1.64 percent of the national votes.
A total of 16 362 869 votes had been counted.
In the Western Cape, the DA had surpassed the number of votes it got in 2009, with just more than a million ballots still to be captured.
Pundits said the ANC could see itself getting slightly fewer votes than it did at the last general election in 2009, with the DA benefiting.
On Thursday night, ANC national spokesman Jackson Mthembu was more circumspect about the party’s performance.
“We don’t want to take anybody by surprise. As the ANC, we don’t like speculation.
“When it is clear what the patterns are, and it will only be clear when almost 90 percent of the votes have been declared, at that stage, yes, we might say, yes, maybe now we have made it, it’s time that we thank our people.”
Mthembu was speaking before votes for the large metros in KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng had been announced.
“From where we are seated, many of the metros in the country, by the way, are governed by the ANC, and many of them are not here as yet.”
Political analyst Susan Booysen said the projections by the CSIR were “deadly accurate”.
“They do serious mathematical modelling. On that, we see the IFP being the fourth biggest party in Parliament and the NFP coming in just behind it.
On the smaller parties that lost their seats in Parliament, Booysen said: “All of them had one seat in Parliament, so it could have gone anywhere. Sadly, the time had come for them.”
DA spokesman Mmusi Maimane said on Thursday night there was “still a long way to go”.
“We will keep going. I think the fact that we’ve grown in every area, or doubled our support, is a very positive thing for us, and remember the ANC is coming from a much higher percentage and now they are tracking down. It’s a good thing.”
NFP Youth Movement president Sibusiso Mncwabe said he couldn’t explain how “happy and excited” they were at their performance.
“We feel so humbled. We knew that we wouldn’t do badly, but we were not expecting this… We are almost approaching 300 000 votes.”