Political Watch

Threat to ANC dominance after 3 August is real


Only 30.85% of South Africa’s registered voters supported the national governing African National Congress (ANC) in the recent local government elections.

This is the conclusion of seasoned political analyst, Stephan Terblanche, after taking a closer look at the results of the proportional (PR) component of the elections.

The ANC, in a boldfaced attempt to hide or minimise its losses, claimed that many more millions of voters had actually voted for it in 2016 than in 2011. It claimed this showed that “the voters of South Africa continue to have confidence in the ANC”.

At closer analysis this comes as close to an outright political lie as one can get, Terblanche writes.

In 2011 61.95% voters of the combined total for PR and ward votes, voted for the ANC. In 2016 those numbers dropped to 53.91%, with some two million more people voting.

Based on the ANC’s claim, arguably this means that none of the two million new voters voted for the ANC, while the stay-away vote in 2016 was about half a million more than in 2011.

In most cases the final voting percentages quoted by the IEC or other analysts for 2011 and 2016, are based on the combined share of votes where the same voter votes once on the PR (proportional party representation) ballot and once on the ward (directly elected ward councillors) ballot. In this formula the ANC received 53.91% in the 2016 election, the DA 26.9% and the EFF 8.19%.

Comparing apples with apples

To be able to compare apples with apples, we took only the PR votes in the 2011 and 2016 local elections and compared them to the 2014 national election figures (in both cases only voting for a party), to arrive at the true party support figures. That produces an interesting picture.

Comparing only PR votes, the DA received almost a million more votes in 2016 than in 2011and almost the same as in 2014. However, in 2016 almost three million fewer people voted (PR system only) than in 2014 – suggesting a substantial stay-away factor in the 2016 elections.

The ANC claimed in its statement, while counting had not yet been completed at the time, that 14 million voters had voted for it, up from 8.1 million votes in 2011, or some six million more voters supporting the ANC, it said.

Whereas the actual end result was 16 103 206 voters, it is important to note that this figure represents the combined tally for directly elected ward councillors as well as PR votes. Most of these were the same voters voting twice, once on the ward ballot and once on the PR ballot, where the figure quoted in comparison by the ANC for 2011 included only the PR votes.

This represents more than just a white lie. If the District Council votes are added to all of these numbers, the totals are way higher, but the ANC’s lie would become too obvious.

If considering only the PR votes reveals a considerably different picture: The ANC received only 8 124 223 of the votes cast, less than the number of voters who did not vote at all, being 11 036 594 registered voters.

The ANC’s 2016 votes are slightly fewer than in 2011, and about three million fewer than in 2014. Some 11.4 million registered voters did not vote at all.


So, do a majority of registered South Africans really still support the ANC and do the results prove that “the voters of South Africa continue to have confidence in the ANC”? Differently put, from how large a slice of the registered voting population did the ANC receive a mandate to govern?

Fact is that from 26 333 353 potential voters, it received a mandate from only 8 124 223 South African voters – representing only 30.85%, instead of the majority support it continues to claim.

At best, for the ANC, a very large slice of its historical support has moved to neutral terrain of ‘stay away status’. On the other hand, their percentage share of those who did vote is dropping and opposition votes are closing in on it.

The next national general election, scheduled for 2019, is shaping up to being truly a crossroads for the ANC and the country as a whole.

by Intelligence Bulletin team

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