Tshwane Burning: The ANC and Opposition Support in the Capital - Is 2016 a turning point?

Elnari Potgieter and Ebrahim Fakir | 26 July 2016

Just over a month before the 2016 local government election, following the announcement of the ANC's mayoral candidate for Tshwane on 19 June 2016 (Segodi 2016), residents from various part of the metropolitan area "took to the streets" in protest against the announcement that the current mayor - Kgosientso Ramokgopa - would be replaced by Thoko Didiza (Masombuka‚ Hosken & Quintal 2016) as the ANC's mayoral candidate. In certain areas of Tshwane, protests turned violent - with some areas being affected by the looting of shops, burning of busses and trucks, barricaded streets (Sunday Times 2016), journalists threatened and attacked, and five deaths - as the unrest spread (Kekana & Lindeque 2016a).

Communities where unrest was reported during this period (19-24 June 2016), include: Atteridgeville, Hammanskraal, Mamelodi, Mabopane and Soshanguve (Kekana & Lindeque 2016a). Killing took place in Atteridgeville, Mabopane and Mamelodi (Kekana & Lindeque 2016b).

Some ANC members, during these events, demanded that the party [ANC] should keep the current Tshwane Mayor - Kgosientso Ramokgopa - as their candidate, while others backed Ramkogopa's deputy in the regional ANC (Mapiti Matsena; Manyathela, Rahlaga & Mothupi 2016). Some ANC supporters on either side of the factional divide - suggested that should there preferred candidate not get the nod, they will stay-away (Munusamy 2016), or vote for the DA or some other party (Jordaan 2016).

Predicting voter turnout and voter preference for 3rd of August is impossible, but patterns suggest that a huge "stay-away", or a vote for an opposition party (particularly the EFF or the DA), may see the ANC lose its majority, or be forced to Govern in a coalition (Kotzé 2016).

Is this likely? This piece examines support for the ANC and DA as well as a few other opposition parties, in relation to voter turnout in the Tshwane metropolitan area for the period of 2000-2014 - with the aim of identifying possible trends. In addition, we also examine voter turnout and support for the ANC and DA for previous municipal elections (2011) in the areas where violent protests took place during 2016 - with the aim of understanding what the impact of ANC voters "staying-away" (or voting for opposition parties) might be.

Tshwane Voter Turnout and Support Patterns (2000-2014)

Table 1: Tshwane Voter Turnout (2000-2014)
  • Voter Turnout in local elections in Tshwane decreased with 4,48% from the 2000 local elections (45,65%) to 41.17% in 2006, after which turnout increased to 55,32% in the 2011 local elections.
  • Voter Turnout for national elections remained fairly consistent, with 76.6% voter turnout in 2004, 79.54% voter turnout in 2009 and 76.79% voter turnout in 2014.
Table 2: Tshwane Political Party Support Patterns (2000-2014)

Support for the ANC has declined in local and national elections, with the biggest decline in support from the 2009 to 2014 elections (from 61,07% to 50,96%). Decline in support for the ANC has been much bigger during national elections than during local elections.

Support for the DA in the metro in local elections declined by 3,87%, during the period 2000 to 2006 after which it increased by 7,96% to 38,65% in the 2011 local elections. DA support in national elections decreased from 27,79% in 2004 to 24,89% in 2009, after which it increased to 31,3% during the 2014 national elections.

COPE managed to win 7,75% of the votes cast in the 2009 national elections, but support for COPE in the metro declined dramatically in two successive elections (0,9% in the 2011 local elections and 0,44% in the national elections). Support for the VF+ during national elections has remained fairly consistent, whilst support for the ACDP has declined in both local and national elections.

The EFF managed to win 11,41% of votes cast in the metro during the 2014 national elections - the first elections the party competed in.

Table 3: Tshwane PR and Ward Seats (Local Elections 2000-2014)

In local elections the ACDP has been losing seats since 2000, with 3 seats won in the year 2000, and only 1 seat during both the 2006 local and 2011 elections. It should be noted that these are only PR seats. The ACDP has never won a ward in the Tshwane Metro. Smaller parties - such as Visie 2000+, ASCORA and host of Christian based parties, are ephemeral without any durability.

One should also note that in the 2011 local elections, the DA's PR seats far outstripped the seats won in wards - which means that the wards the DA won, was won with large majorities contributing to its PR tally, but that even in wards where it lost, it lost by smaller margins than it previously did, which in the PR top up system, worked to benefit its share of the proportionate number of seats it received.

In investigating the relationship between Voter Turnout and party support, and the possible impact Voter Turnout may have on ANC support in the metro, it is perhaps prudent to more closely examine the wards where ANC support is strong and where violence erupted in June 2016.

Voter Turnout and ANC / opposition support specifically in the identified Tshwane area

The table below captures the percentage Voter Turnout and percentage Support for the ANC and DA during the 2011 local elections in some of the areas where violent protest was reported during June 2016. These figures are compared to the National, Provincial and Tshwane specific figures in order to compare participation and party support rates. Given that ward demarcations change, we do not examine results prior to 2011, nor compare national election ward specific results to local ward specific results given the dramatically different electoral systems used and the varying voter turnout rates.

Table 4:  Percentage Voter Turnout, Percentage Support for the ANC and DA in South Africa 2011 Local Elections

From the table above*, the following can be inferred with regards to percentage Voter Turnout:

  • Voter Turnout for all five identified areas were lower than the national (57,64%), provincial and metropolitan turnout during the 2011 elections.
  • The lowest Voter Turnout rates during the 2011 election year among the five areas was in Atteridgeville (47,88%) and Mamelodi (49, 70%).

The following can be inferred with regards to ANC support in the identified areas:

  • All of the identified areas had a significantly higher percentage support for the ANC than was the case nationally (63,55%), provincially (60,21%) and for Tshwane as a whole (55,32%).

The following is shown with regards to DA support in the areas:

  • Support for the DA in the five areas were significantly lower than for the DA nationally, in the province and the metropolitan as a whole.
  • It is notable that the DA, whilst polling significantly lower than the ANC in these areas, is the second most supported party in all five areas, with support for the DA being the highest in Hammanskraal (14, 71%).

It is worth noting here that the EFF is contesting for the first time in a local election this year. The only data available in this regard is support for the EFF during the national elections of 2014. Support for the EFF during 2014 can however be used to consider possible support for the EFF in the 2016 local elections (although no definitive statements can be made in this regard at this stage) and the EFF may change the trajectory of party support patterns for both the ANC and the DA in these five areas in 2016.

Summary Conclusions

Influence of a stay-away by ANC voters in core support areas

The possibility of a "stay-away" of ANC voters in Tshwane - as a result of internal factions and now even fractions, exacerbated by the pre-existing schisms and the subsequent violence following the release of the ANC candidate list and mayoral candidate nominee, may work to the benefit of the opposition. Even a marginal shift in voter support to the DA, EFF or other parties may lead to a coalition government in the Metro.

The DA seems to be gaining traction in the metro, with an increase in support - in particular from the 2009 national elections to the 2014 national elections. At the same time, the EFF managed to gain 11.41% of votes from Tshwane voters in the 2014 national elections. It thus seems that the main competition for the ANC in the coming election would be primarily from a stay-away of its own supporters and residually from the DA and EFF.

If there is a stay away in the areas that traditionally would boost the ANC's percentage support in the metro. If this happens, even without the opposition parties necessarily making big inroads into the ANC vote, then the effect will be a bigger proportionate weight of opposition votes leading to a slimmer margin of majority should the ANC get a majority, In other words, if the DA or other opposition parties do not grow actual support, but the overall proportion of ANC support shrinks due abstaining ANC voters, then the opposition's proportionate share of support increases somewhat.

Changing voting patterns

A shift in votes towards the DA and the EFF in the particular wards of the five areas may not have an effect on the ANC winning wards in these specific areas, but could result in a higher percentage support for opposition parties (in particular the DA) in the city as a whole - which in turn will have an impact on the total number of seats the ANC acquires given the PR top-up system. Depending on which parties benefit from shifting votes, the EFF (which managed to gather more than 11% of votes in the 2014 national elections) and the DA (which have seen growth in support in Tshwane) may potentially gain seats in the metro, possibly leading to a coalition local government, with no party dominating in terms of support and/or council seats.

Tshwane, the ANC's to lose

Unlike the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro, where turnout may not necessarily be predictive of the fortunes of one or other party, and where it less clear how voter turnout may be a predictor of how a particular ward will vote, in Tshwane, it is evident that a lower voter turnout amongst ANC voters in core wards - is likely to place its majority in jeopardy. Tshwane therefore, where it is voter turnout that matters, remains the ANC's to lose. Should it lose it would be purely attributable to deep, uncontained and unconstrained factionalisation, the mismanaging of the candidate nomination process, and an inability to craft a set of internal rules for candidate nomination processes which are respected, and whose outcomes are accepted - by leaders and members alike.

It is these factors that may lead to a potentially lower voter turnout and a potential ANC loss.


* Please note: Ward boundaries do not necessarily follow the borders of places / communities / townships / towns and/or cities. For this reason, a combination of wards - as with the 2011 South Africa municipal elections - were identified, which roughly represents the respective places / areas. Please take note that some of the identified wards may partially fall within a specific area, but that the same ward may also fall within another area. The figures here thus roughly represent the % Voter Turnout and % Support in specific areas investigated, but not perfectly so. The Tshwane wards included in the calculations for each of the areas are: Atteridgeville - wards 51, 62, 63, 68, 71, 72; Hammanskraal - wards 49, 73, 74; Mamelodi - wards 6, 10, 15, 16, 17, 18, 23, 28, 38, 40, 67, 97; Mabopane - wards 12, 19, 20, 21, 22, 29; Soshanguve - wards 11, 13, 25, 26, 32, 33, 34, 35, 36, 37, 39, 88, 89, 90, 94. The 2011 ward map used is available online on the website of the Municipal Demarcation Board: http://www.demarcation.org.za/index.php/ward-delimitation/2010-wards/gp-2010-wards/tsh-1 (accessed 5 July 2016).
Voter Turnout for each area was calculated using the number of votes cast as a proportion of those registered in the respective areas (adding in the amount in the wards constituting the areas as described above), Average turnout is the average voter turnout of the various wards in each area calculated by talking turnout in each ward and averaging it.


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