‘Political massacre’ as MK wipes out ANC

Provincial elections head, Ntombifuthi Masinga reports back at the Results Operation Centre at the ICC in Durban. | SHELLEY KJONSTAD Independent Newspapers

Provincial elections head, Ntombifuthi Masinga reports back at the Results Operation Centre at the ICC in Durban. | SHELLEY KJONSTAD Independent Newspapers

Published Jun 1, 2024


Durban — The horse trading between political rivals has apparently begun as parties across the country come to terms with an alternate reality they could not have imagined before voting started on Wednesday.

By 7pm on Friday, the ANC was leading the national votes with 41.52%, the DA had amassed 22.26%, the MK Party was trailing in third with 12.81% and the EFF was fourth with 9.4%. Speculation was rife that ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa’s days were numbered because of the party’s poor showing. The future of opposition leader John Steenhuisen was also called into question because former leader Mmusi Maimane was ousted from the top job after a similar result in the last national elections.

Markets reacted strongly on Thursday as the results started trickling in and stabilised again on Friday but the capital market weakened considerably.

Analysts say the ANC’s support was predicted to slip below 50% nationally – in some cases into the 30s – but no one could have foreseen how it was effectively obliterated by its fledgling offshoot, uMkhonto weSizwe in KZN.

Professor Dirk Kotze from the University of Stellenbosch said South Africa would now have a more diverse multi-party landscape.

He said even though the counting was still under way, the parties were already engaged in behind-the-scenes discussions about the way ahead and the multi-party charter was proof of this.

“What can I say, it’s a political massacre. It’s a total game-changer. And then the big question is who will be the partners of the ANC in the coalition, nationally?”

Kotze said the ANC had two options; one with the DA and the other with the EFF. He said Ramaphosa and his negotiators faced a difficult task determining which was their best option.

“Their experience with the EFF has been very negative. The EFF already sort of pre-judged this by saying they wanted the Minister of Finance (post) and Floyd Shivambu must be there. This is something the ANC cannot agree with; that position is not negotiable for the most senior party in the coalition so it starts on a negative note. In the case of the DA, I think the problem is that the ANC and the DA basically said they are not natural allies,” Kotze said.

He proposed another option, which included the IFP.

“Then you go, in a sense, back to the old government of National Unity of three parties: the ANC, National Party and the IFP. That creates the impression that it is not about two political parties who come together for, in a sense, their own interests, but more in the national interest,” he said.

He said these were the three main options but there were other more complex possibilities. He said the ANC could try to work with several smaller parties but that would make it difficult to manage such a coalition government. Kotze said it would be best to keep it to a maximum of four parties. A coalition with the MK Party would be almost impossible because of the “hostile situation” between them.

“In addition the MKP would probably get a maximum of 14% of the votes so the ANC would need more votes and possibly other parties also to balance the MK within such a coalition structure.

“Sometimes a splinter group is like a family feud, it’s more intense than a competition or war, or between people who come from far apart. They know each other so well.”

Political analyst Tessa Dooms, a Rivonia Circle think tank board member, said the story of this election was how the MK Party had exceeded all expectations.

“Especially in KZN, it has obliterated ANC support. The second thing the MK party has done is it’s given disillusioned ANC voters a place to show their frustration.”

Dooms said that with a few million votes still outstanding the ANC might still emerge with a majority and “we do have to allow the results to speak for themselves”.

Dooms, who was based at the National Results Operations Centre in Midrand, said there were no indications of coalition talks between any of the parties present.

“Everybody’s posturing, it is politics. There’s a squeeze campaign for the ANC to try to see different parties in different lights, and so I think we just wait it out.”

On Friday afternoon DA leader John Steenhuisen said they were the only party represented in the National Assembly that registered growth.

“But if projections are to be believed and they do stay around the 20% mark in an election where the ANC has dropped by 15%, they will feel somewhat aggrieved,” said Dooms.

“The only thing that could lift their spirits is a possible coalition with the ANC, either at national level or at Gauteng. But they’re certainly not in as dire a position as many other parties find themselves.

Economist Dawie Roodt said even though everyone was talking about the big change in the political landscape, over the past 30 years, nothing had really changed. “Because what we currently have are various offshoots of the ANC. MK is just a faction within the ANC and the same goes for the EFF,” said Roodt.

He said the ballots showed that two thirds of the electorate in South Africa wanted a government that was “sort of” leftist, interventionist and “sort of” believed in a developmental state and the decentralisation of power.

“I can tell you as an economist, that is exactly what we don’t need if we want to fix the economy: we need exactly the opposite of what they are standing for. We need more efficiency, less state intervention, less spending by the state and that’s not what the electorate voted for: they voted for what the ANC has been doing for a long time.”

Roodt warned that an EFF/ANC coalition would result in a weaker currency, more inflation and high interest rates.

“That’s going to lead to weaker economic growth, less job creation. The opposite is true if there’s an ANC, DA coalition …”

Meanwhile, the Public Service Accountability Monitor on Friday questioned how many voters had left polling stations without voting due to lengthy delays because of glitches.

The organisation’s Jay Kruuse said that many voters were frustrated by the extremely long waiting times at polling stations. Kruuse said that in Makhanda, for example, some voters waited up to six hours to vote.

“And these are in voting stations where a number of these voters have voted there historically. So their experiences this time round were vastly different from a waiting perspective, compared with prior years,” he said.

Kruuse said some of the reasons given were that the scanning devices weren’t connecting to the voters roll and that officials had to resort to hard copies. At other voting stations they only had two booths when more were needed given the number of people who turned out, he said.

On Friday morning the technical glitches spilled over to the results centre where the IEC’s leaderboard went down. However, the organisation was quick to put out a statement saying that “The data in the data centre remains intact and the results have not been compromised.”

Meanwhile, the Justice Budget Coalition raised concerns about the “inadequate funding” of the IEC, which it said contributed to the challenges.

“The IEC itself predicted these negative outcomes, highlighting that ‘underfunding will impact the need for the IEC to adapt their ICT, conduct workshops and training, prepare ballot papers and conduct public education on the revised electoral system’. In the long term these challenges have an impact on voter turnout and participation, as we have noted with people going back home without voting. Thus, austerity will, in the long-term, threaten people’s right to free and fair elections,” the coalition said.

Election results verification will continue and the IEC is expected to make its final announcement at 6pm on Sunday.


Once the election results are in and verified the Electoral Commission will calculate the number of seats each party has.

Parties will have to look at their election lists and determine who they want to send to Parliament. They can’t add to the list but they can play with the names already there.

Within 14 days after Sunday, the new parliament must have its first sitting, presided over by the chief justice or another judge.

At the first sitting, parties will nominate candidates for the Presidency and the Speaker. They will then vote on the matter.

Not longer than four days after that, the president must be inaugurated in Pretoria.

Independent on Saturday