Pretoria - The City of Tshwane is going to be an important constituency for any political party that wants to win Gauteng. Traditionally an ANC stronghold, the emergence of the Economic Freedom Fighters could mean a slight decrease in the ruling party’s support.
Dr Kealeboga Maphunye, research professor, and Brigalia Bam, who holds the Wiphold chair on electoral democracy in Africa at Unisa, said the results were not expected to be too different from those in 2009.
“We are more likely to see the 2008/09 scenario where the ANC leads in the municipality. And this time the Economic Freedom Fighters will be ahead of Cope. The municipality will be closely contested by the EFF and the DA,” Maphunye said. “The DA candidate, Mmusi Maimane, has said he wants to win Gauteng. There is no way he can do that without getting Tshwane.”
In the 2009 national elections, the ANC got a clear majority in the city with 61.07 percent of votes. The DA came in second with 24.9 percent, followed by Cope at 7.75 percent.
In the provincial election results, the ANC achieved less than it did nationally. The ruling party got 59.9 percent in the provincial elections and the DA 25.06 percent.
Maphunye said Cope was unlikely to achieve the results it did in the last elections because of the problems plaguing the party.
Last week at least 19 Cope MPs announced they were leaving Cope to join the ANC. Party leader Mosiuoa Lekota played down the resignations and said the party would im-prove on its performance in the last elections.
Maphunye said other than Cope’s internal struggles, the EFF had a better chance of winning the municipality as the party appeals to the city’s young population.
According to Statistics SA, the city population is made up of 11.67 percent of young people aged between 20 and 24, and 11.6 percent aged between 25 and 29.
Tshwane mayor and member of the ANC Gauteng provincial executive Kgosientso Ramokgopa said the municipality was important for the ruling party. “During apartheid we used to sing, Siyaya e Pitoli, symbolising the historic importance of the city.
“This is the place from which the prosecutions of apartheid took place. In 1994, this is where the first democratically elected president of the country was inaugurated. The city is also the seat of government. Whoever wins the political battle cannot do so without the Tshwane vote.”
EFF spokesman Mbuyiseni Ndlozi agreed. “Pretoria, being the capital city, is the place from where we will take over the government and the country. The city will also be key in the next local government elections as we intend taking the municipality too. We have very strong support and structures in the city. It is important to us, hence we even hosted our pre-election rally here.”
The party held a rally in Atteridgeville at the weekend which attracted more than 30 000 supporters.
Roland Henwood, a senior lecturer at the department of political science at the University of Pretoria, said: “The capital is one of the major metropolitan areas in the country and in the most important province. People here are easy to target. As a political party you get a return on your investment. The city is important by virtue of being the administrative capital of the country. Large numbers of people are living close to each other.
“There is a guarantee that urban voters will go and vote, unlike in the rural areas.”
Institute for Security Studies researcher Jonathan Faull said the ANC would probably retain Gauteng, but by a smaller margin. “There will be a shift in Gauteng voting patterns from those in previous elections. The ANC could lose a significant share of the 64 percent it won in 2009, but is unlikely to fall below 50 percent.
“There is a constituency within the ANC vote in Gauteng – historically poor and urban – who are frustrated with the pace of change and what they perceive to be a self-serving ruling elite. This particular subset of the ANC vote may switch voting allegiances this year, making the province a potentially rich hunting ground for the DA and the EFF.”