On 18 May, millions of registered voters cast their voice of opinion in the local government elections. The African National Congress (ANC) was the overall victor of the local elections. “The ANC remains South Africa’s dominant party and its 62,5 % lead is a reflection that it still enjoys an overwhelming majority. This is because the ANC is the political home of all our people. It’s a family. Having a protest does not amount to anti-ANC,” said Justice Minister Jeff Radebe on Thursday at the Independent Electoral Commission’s results centre in Pretoria. All voters cast two ballots: a proportional representation (PR) ballot for a party and a ward ballot for the ward candidate in their area.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) remains a strong opposition, taking over a number of ANC municipalities countrywide.

On the ward ballot, the ANC secured 8 143 397 votes (60,98 %) and on the PR ballot 62,93 % – an average of 61,95 %. The DA received 3 177 883 votes (23,80 %) on the ward ballot and 3 216 006 (24,08 %) on the PR ballot – an average of 23,94 %.

ANC was ahead with 62 %, down from the 66 % it won in the 2006 local elections. The party in second place, the DA, raised its tally from 15 % to 24 %. Some commentators were calling the results a breakthrough for the DA, which many black South Africans consider to be a white people’s party.

Before Wednesday’s vote, Helen Zille, leader of the DA, tried to expand the party’s reach, campaigning in black townships considered to be ANC strongholds. The DA increased its support amongst black voters from approximately 1 % in 2009 to approximately 5 % in 2011.                                                                                                                         Nationally, the DA increased its percentage share of the vote from 16,3 % in 2006, to 24 % in 2011. The DA was the only established party to grow its support in the 2011 local government elections. In contrast, the ANC decreased its provincial percentage share of the vote in every province with the exception of KwaZulu-Natal, where it grew by 9,5 %. In all nine provinces the ANC won fewer votes than it did in the 2006.

There are mixed emotions regarding the outcome of this year’s local government elections. While unswerving ANC supporters are content with the overall ANC victory, current and new DA supporters are not happy.

“The DA has cracked, if not broken, the white ceiling,” said Allister Sparks, a political analyst on eNews. “Have the DA and Helen Zille managed to shift the debate from liberation and history to service delivery?” 

Athol Trollip, the DA’s parliamentary leader, said, “This election will spell the end of smaller parties and it is now clear that the race in future will be between the ANC and the DA with COPE in a distant third.”

Photo: Jerome van Zyl

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