To the moon or a crash landing? 2024 election prospects

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If this leads to an eventual ANC/EFF coalition, South Africa will pay a great price for this desperate and foolish attempt by the DA to accomplish the impossible.

The concept of a coalition of parties that is strong enough to unseat the ANC from government is not new, but received a clear push from John Steenhuisen at the Democratic Alliance’s Federal Congress in April 2023. Here, Steenhuisen announced his intention to form a Moonshot Pact, a coalition to “remove the ANC from power, and to replace it with a new pact government composed of like-minded opposition parties”.

He took the first steps in this regard last month when he called together seven such “like-minded parties”: the DA, the Inkatha FP, the Freedom Front Plus, ActionSA, the Spectrum National Party, the United Independent Movement and the Independent SA National Civic Organisation. He stated that they would refuse to negotiate or include the ANC, the EFF or the Patriotic Alliance – although the PA’s exclusion seems to be uncertain. At this meeting, stated by its promoters to be the most important development in South Africa since 1994, it was agreed to rename the process as the Multiparty Charter for South Africa. Helen Zille emphasised the importance of the process, believing that the removal of the ANC would thereby be made imminent, and that thereafter would follow a straight fight between the DA and the EFF to present South Africa with a clear ideological choice.

To suggest that this all got a clear run from an uncritical press is to understate the cheer from the Fourth and Fifth Estates. This is concerning, for nowhere, apparently, has the simple arithmetic of the pact been appraised. If we are to use the results of our last general election (2019) as a starting point, and we divide the election results into three blocks – firstly those in the Multiparty Charter, secondly those excluded therefrom by the charter’s proponents, and thirdly those as yet undecided – we get the following results:

  • The seven members of the Multiparty Charter together won 26,6% of the national vote in 2019: the DA 20,8%, the IFP 3,4% and the FF+ 2,4%. The other four members of the charter, for one reason or another, got no votes between them.
  • The two excluded members got 68,3% of the national vote: the ANC 57,5% and the EFF 10,8%.
  • The non-aligned block fell into two groups: eight parties crossed the threshold and got parliamentary representation – between them they got 3,2% of the vote and 13 members of parliament – and a further 34 parties stood in the election, and between them got some votes but no seats.

Since this election, we have had a national election for local government (2021), and in this election both major parties endured setbacks:

  • The ANC, between the 2016 and 2021 local elections, dropped dramatically, by 8,1% of the entire electorate. These voters appear to have gone to the EFF (2,2%), the IFP (1,5%) and the ATM and the NEF (0,6% each). A further 3,2% of ANC voters appear to have stayed at home, being unwilling to vote for either the ANC or any other party.
  • The DA had a loss of 4,8% of the electorate between 2016 and 2021, and these went to ActionSA (1,8%), the FF+ (1,5%), the Patriotic Alliance (0,8%) and GOOD (0,6%).

So, where is all of this leading us?

Firstly, with regard to the ANC and the EFF: the ANC is expected to drop from its 2019 57,5%, but by how much we don’t know; the EFF is expected to gain votes, but again we do not know how many. So, to speculate: if the EFF gains 2% or so of the electorate, for the Multiparty Alliance to reach 51% it will have to gain 23,4% of the electorate, or nearly as many voters as it has today. That is, it will have to nearly double its support, almost all of which will have to come from the ANC, which will have to shed over 20% of the electorate. Anyone who thinks that this will happen should have a room booked at Valkenberg.

Secondly, the DA: as we have noted, the DA lost support in 2021, almost all of which went to its Moonshot partners. And there is no suggestion that this bleeding has been staunched. ActionSA and the Patriotic Alliance have new-found energy and are clearly making inroads. The FF+ is quietly building its Afrikaner support base. And the ANC, in the 2021 election, started to take back the black voters that they had lent to the DA in 2016 – that process will continue.

In summary, there is a 0% to 1% chance of the DA pulling together, in a coherent way, its seven alliance partners, and the eight and 34 non-aligned parties from 2019, to make a 49-party coalition – which coalition will then have to nearly double its present vote to unseat the ANC. Secondly, there is a real possibility that the ANC will fall short of 51% in 2024. Plainly, its prospects of pulling together a 51% coalition are greater than the DA’s.

The most obviously possibly successful coalition is ANC/DA. Tragically, the DA leadership, who had begun such talks, pulled away from that option while trying to form their Multiparty Coalition. If this leads to an eventual ANC/EFF coalition, South Africa will pay a great price for this desperate and foolish attempt by the DA to accomplish the impossible.

Finally, there is a real possibility of the DA losing its status as the official opposition party – it is being bled dry by its coalition parties, while the EFF is clearly growing.

Stop dreaming, take on the issues in front of you, DA, and get back to talking with the ANC. There are a number of South Africa’s biggest cities that are in real trouble (I know, I live in one), and only a determined effort by both the ANC and the DA working together can pull them right. You can start on that now – no election or delusional pact needed.

See also:

Apatiese kiesers kan Suid-Afrika red, mits hulle stem

’n Koalisiewaghond?

Opdraandestryd vir onafhanklike kandidate in Suid-Afrikaanse verkiesing

Hoe kan ’n onafhanklike kandidaat ’n verskil maak in die parlement?

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