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20 Years of Democracy
Mar 28 2014 6:35AM
SA is heading for change
President Jacob Zuma. Picture: Thapelo Morebudi
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TNA Reporter

With only about six weeks to go before the historic general and provincial elections on May 7 there are growing signs that South Africa is headed for change as well as continuity in its political landscape.

In the largest and most definitive opinion polling and tracking exercise commissioned by 24-hour news channel ANN7, the ANC is projected to win a 64% vote share nationally, the opposition DA will get 19% and the EFF is projected to win 5%. The IFP and Cope are tipped to win 4% of votes each.

Julius Malema will make a significant impact but all in all indications are that President Jacob Zuma is set for a return as the president of the Republic.

“The ANC is heading for another big victory and a nearly two-thirds majority,” Yeshwant Deshmukh, an independent pollster from CVoter International, said.

“There are no big surprises here as the drop in the ANC vote is not as spectacular as anticipated. A marginal drop of 2% in the national vote is neither big enough to shake the ANC nor does it signal the advent of opposition renaissance.

“However, it does indicate that people are willing to explore options other than the ANC if they are credible enough,” he said.

Last night, ANN7’s trendsetting elections show SA Decides showcased the first results of its nationwide convenience opinion poll, which has been capturing public sentiment in the run-up to the historic fifth democratic elections.

Some have described the elections as “game changing” with 25.3 million people registered out of the estimated 31.4 million people of voting age. And change is indeed predicted. “Interestingly, more than the rumblings in the ruling party there is a big churn going on in the opposition segment – important for a democracy.

“The traditional opposition party, the DA, is hamstrung in capitalising on this big churn and is thus able to swing only 2% more votes than its 2009 tally,” Deshmukh said. “However, the new kid on the block, EFF, is capitalising on Cope and IFP’s decline to make a substantial debut.

“The DA seems to have hit the political glass ceiling because the anti-incumbency votes are not transferring directly to the DA.

“Despite some movement of voters away from the traditional political spectrum, the DA is unable to sweep the majority of it. In fact, out of an aggregate negative vote swing of -7% across political parties, the DA is able to corner only 2% towards its side.”

Among the “new kids on the block”, which include Agang SA and the Zululand-based National Freedom Party, Malema’s EFF is the only one predicted to make a significant entrance in the national and provincial legislatures. “The EFF is set for a spectacular debut.

“It will not only make a mark in parliament but is probably going to be the main opposition party in three out of nine provinces. This signifies a new competitor in the opposition space,” the pollster said.

Only a week has passed since the release of the Nkandla report by public protector Thuli Madonsela and this controversy has significantly increased the “polarisation” of the ANC and DA supporters.

“This is represented in the index of retainership that shot up by 5 points for the ANC and 7 points for the DA,” Deshmukh said.

According to the poll, the elections will see the DA retaining its upper hand in the Western Cape and the ANC keeping control in the rest of the eight provinces, including maintaining the lead in Gauteng. “Generally, it takes about three decades or five generations for any effective opposition to emerge in front of a party credited with a freedom struggle.

“It seems that the South African landscape is already churning a lot but it might need to consolidate in the coming years to witness more impact on the ruling party,” Deshmukh said.

“Zuma has a 47% approval across the nation, high enough but less than the approval rating of 64% for his party.

The big story is coming from Malema, his approval rating of 11% of the vote is more than double the vote share of his party at 5%. But popularity ratings do not convert into votes.

“While the ANC is more popular than Zuma it is winning the national elections and taking Zuma safely to his next presidential term.” – 700198

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