Appropriately, as we push on towards the beginning of winter, we are going to have our next election. Oh joy — a breath of chill air! A rainstorm of municipal councillors clogging the sewer outfalls! What could be more appropriate?
However, the interesting question is what will actually happen.
Municipal elections are different from national and provincial elections in that they arouse less excitement, paradoxically, since they are actually ones in which electors, theoretically, exercise a much more fundamental choice. You can remove a councillor who has not been performing by simply not voting for him; you can’t remove a Minister or an MEC who hasn’t been performing — not unless you are a newspaper editor or a massive financial donor to the ANC.
As a result, one might expect a drop in support in municipal elections. However, at the moment the white supremacists and the DA are extremely optimistic (and desperately so, since they badly need to improve their representation — they have yet to attain the status of the NP in 1994) and particularly optimistic about municipal elections, since whites and coloureds are far more urbanised than africans and therefore have more prospect of gaining power in towns. Therefore, there is likely to be a lot of get-out-the-vote in the DA and its friends. In contrast, the ANC has been quite late and apathetic in its municipal election campaign, and this is all tempered by the obvious problems regarding municipal service delivery and the general integrity of ANC-controlled municipalities; the ANC has announced that it is not happy about these things. As a result, the likely apathy of the municipal election will probably influence the ANC far more than the DA.
So what predictions can we make, on the basis of past results? Here we must turn to Roger Southall and John Daniel’s work of pro-Zuma propaganda, Zunami, supposedly a book about the 2009 elections. Buried within this book are some interesting facts which prove that Southall and Daniel and their friends are talking spinach; Zuma’s electoral performance was unspectacular. Here’s another useful table for you:
2004 2009 Change
Potential voters 27,436,000 29,956,000 +9.2%
Registered voters 20,674,000 (0.75 of total) 23,181,000 (0.77 of total) +12.17%
Votes 15,612,000 (0.76 of registered) 17,680,000 (0,76 of registered) +13.24%
ANC vote 10,880,000 (39.7% of potential votes; 69.6% of votes cast) 11,650,000 (38.9% of potential votes; 65.9% of votes cast) +7%
What this means is that between 2004 and 2009 the ANC’s percentage of the votes cast declined by 5.32%. Not a massive decline, but notable considering the increase in the registration and of the actual votes cast, both of which were substantial increases over the number of potential voters. This raises a lot of doubts about the claim that voters are becoming hostile to the political system, a claim made almost universally by the white right and the far left (both of whom are hostile to the ANC and to democracy, which denies them their undeserved power).
The most logical conclusion to draw from this is that chaos within the ANC served to encourage its enemies, and that this encouragement among its enemies might have encouraged the ANC to whip up some votes (we might recall that their principal slogan in 2009 was “Defend the ANC”). It was interesting, for instance, that CoPe in 2009 gained far more votes than the ANC lost. Meanwhile, however, big issues were the provincial ones; the gains in KwaZulu-Natal because of the collapse of the IFP, and the losses in the Western Cape because of the collapse of ANC structures there and the alienation of the coloured vote. What can we make of this? Let’s see the provincial breakdown , derived from the same book but adapted to make it more coherent.
Province 2004 2009 Change
Eastern Cape ANC 1,806,000 (79.3%) 1,609,000 (69.7%) -10.9%
Eastern Cape DA 165,000 (7.2%) 230,000 (10%) +39%
Eastern Cape ethnic makeup — 7,341,000 total: 6,423,000 african (87.5%), 513,000 coloured (7%), 381,000 white (5.2%). Per capita income R15,146
Western Cape ANC 742,000 (46%) 666,000 (32%) -10.2%
Western Cape DA 432,000 (26.9%) 989,000 (48.7%) +131%
Western Cape ethnic makeup — 4,540,000 total: 1,076,000 african (23.7%), 2,437,000 coloured (53.7%), 978,000 white (21.5%). Per capita income R36,898
KwaZulu-Natal ANC 1,287,000 (47.4%) 2,192,000 (63.9%) +70.3%
KwaZulu-Natal DA 276,000 (10%) 364,000 (10.3%) +31.9%
KwaZulu-Natal IFP 1,009,000 (36.6%) 780,000 (22.2%) -22.7%
KwaZulu-Natal ethnic makeup — 9,812,000 total: 8,156,000 african (83.1%), 875,000 indian (8.92%), 646,000 white (6.5%). Per capita income R20,211
Free State ANC 838,000 (82%) 756,000 (71%) -9.8%
Free State DA 90,000 (8.8%) 127,000 (12.1%) +41%
Free State ethnic makeup — 2,993,000 total: 2,543,000 african (85.1%), 361,000 white (12%), 85,000 coloured (2.8%) Per capita income R36,084
Gauteng ANC 2,408,000 (68.7%) 2,814,000 (64.7%) +16.9%
Gauteng DA 712,000 (20.3%) 924,000 (21,2%) +29.8%
Gauteng ethnic makeup — 9,316,000 total: 6,810,000 african (73.1%), 1,993,000 white (21.4%), 325,000 coloured (3.5%), 186,000 indian (2%). Per capita income R43,189
Limpopo ANC 1,487,000 (89.7%) 1,319,000 (85.2%) -11.3%
Limpopo DA 63,000 (3.8%) 57,000 (3.7%) -9.5%
Limpopo ethnic makeup — 5,499,000 total: 5,341,000 african (97.3%), 141,000 white (2,5%) Per capita income R14,354
Mpumalanga ANC 979,000 (86.3%) 1,152,000 (85.8%) +17.7%
Mpumalanga DA 81,000 (7.1%) 102,000 (7.6%) +25.9%
Mpumalanga ethnic makeup — 3,650,000 total: 3,332,000 african (91%), 281,000 white (7.7%). Per capita income R22,027
Northern Cape ANC 222,000 (68.7%) 253,000 (61.1%) +14.9%
Northern Cape DA 37,000 (11.6%) 54,000 (13%) +46%
Northern Cape ethnic makeup — 1,122,000 total: 512,000 african (45.7%), 487,000 coloured (43.5%), 119,000 white (10.6%) Per capita income R24,604
North-West ANC 1,083,000 (81.8%) 833,000 (73.8%) -23.1%
North-West DA 72,000 (5.5%) 96,000 (8.7%) +33.3%
North-West ethnic makeup — 3,448,000 total: 3,103,000 african (90.2%), 281,000 white (8.1%). Per capita income R18,498
(All of the above figures are taken from Zunami, but are extremely unreliable — especially the per capita income, which bears no relationship to the province’s share of GDP and of population.)
Now, what can we make of all this? The relationship between DA support and white support is particularly interesting; in the North-West the DA vote is 80.7% of the white population, almost exactly the white voting population. In the Northern Cape, in contrast, the DA vote is 45% of the white population — probably suggesting a high FF+ voting base. In Mpumalanga the DA vote is 36% of the white population. In Limpopo the DA vote is 40% of the white population. In the Eastern Cape the DA vote is 60% of the white population. All this suggests that the african vote and even the coloured vote is not very significant for the DA in these provinces. It seems obvious that in these provinces there is potential for an increased DA vote — but in these provinces the DA vote is also insubstantial. There is no real prospect that the DA is going to win any of the major towns in these provinces. Hence, they are not going to win Nelson Mandela, and if Buffalo City, God forbid, is incorporated as a metro city, they will not win that, either.
Since the DA is not doing well enough in KwaZulu-Natal to count for anything much (there the DA vote is only 56% of the white population) the only remaining place for the DA to succeed is in Gauteng. It seems significant that the DA did not do particularly well, there. While they picked up numbers, so did the ANC (surprisingly, but perhaps this is because Gauteng is an extremely affluent province and there are a lot of african civil servants there). Hence it is virtually impossible for the DA to accomplish much there.
And that means that this forthcoming municipal election is not going to bring much of a surprise. It is most probable that there will be another decline in the ANC’s proportion of the vote; there is likely to be a lot of disillusionment with the Zuma administration. However, this decline is unlikely to be more dramatic than the 2004-2009 decline. As a result, while the ANC will win many (probably virtually all) of its municipalities with a reduced majority, the reduction will not be enough to make a significant difference to the insignificance of the DA. In many municipalities, the fall in ANC support may be counterbalanced by growing african urbanisation, so the DA may even decline.
As a result, the ANC will probably be able to conceal its weakness in this municipal election. On the other hand, after the election there will very probably be massive squabbles within municipal ANC structures which will embarrass the party hideously. So the weakness of the ANC will be concealed, but the party activists will be aware of it. The stage will be set for an extremely unpleasant internal national conflict in 2012.