The ANC is set to secure a solid national majority in the 2019 elections, but there is room for parties to work together to keep each other in check.
By 14h00 on Friday, over 88% of the voting stations had been captured, showing the ANC with a lead of 57.25% in the national vote, followed by the DA at 21.21% and the EFF at 10.27%.
The IEC’s data showed that the ANC is set to secure an outright majority (above 50%) in almost all the provinces, with the exception of the Western Cape, where the DA retained its majority, and in Gauteng, where there is no majority party.
In the Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Mpumalanga, the ANC has a firm two-thirds majority (66%+), while in the Free State, KwaZulu Natal, North-West and the Northern Cape, the party will need to team up with other parties to get to two-thirds.
According to the DA, it and other opposition parties (such as the UDM) are willing to enter into talks to form coalitions in the provinces where they can keep the ANC in check.
However, analysts have also noted that there is room for the ANC and the DA to coalesce where interests meet.
Speaking on eNCA, political analyst Lumkile Mondi said that the most progressive move would be for the ANC to form a ‘grand coalition’ with the DA. This, he said, would show that the government could function as a truly united entity.
But for such a thing to become a reality, president Cyril Ramaphosa would need to move beyond simply serving the ANC’s interests, he said.
“On the ANC side, we have a mixed bag, where (president Ramaphosa) sits with some people who are corrupt, and incompetent and have failed the South African people. On the DA side we have lots of people who are competent.
“So a ‘grand coalition’ of some sort could really support the president – for the country, not for political parties – and help us rebuild,” Mondi said.
With close to 70% of the votes in Gauteng counted, the ANC has slipped below 50%, and is currently sitting at 49.7% in the province.
While this points to a loss of an outright majority for the ruling party in the province, it’s not the only one to lose support. The DA, which had over 30% of the vote in 2014 has also slipped, sitting at 28% so far, meaning no majority, and therefore a likely coalition.
Dr Jakkie Cilliers of the Institute for Security Studies predicted this outcome for Gauteng, and said that it could lead to an internal battle within the ANC in the province, with the more ‘reformist’ side (those who are trying to undo the damage done through corruption), seeking to align with parties that will fit that agenda.
For Gauteng, the DA could easily fit the bill.
If the ANC were to partner with other smaller parties, or with the EFF in the province, this would instead serve the other faction – the ‘traditionalists’, who have their roots in the Zuma years – which would be bad news for the province, Cilliers said.
South African political parties had their first real taste for coalition governments following the 2016 municipal elections, which saw the EFF, DA and other smaller parties working together to take over major metros in the country.
With buy-in from the EFF, the DA managed to take over leadership of three major metros – Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane and Johannesburg.
As political campaigning ramped up in the year preceding the 2019 elections, however, many of these shaky agreements came under pressure.
The EFF, which emerged as a ‘kingmaker’, used its position to punish the DA for not backing it on land reform issues, resulting in the crumbling of the Nelson Mandela Bay coalition.
The party also put pressure on DA leadership in Tshwane and Joburg.
Speaking ahead of the 2019 vote, EFF leader Julius Malema said that the party would not enter into any coalitions without “certain guarantees” – though he indicated an openness to discussions with both the DA and ANC.
With the DA and EFF’s rocky past when it comes to coalitions, many analysts expect the red berets to be more aligned with the ANC, using the two parties’ team-up on changing the country’s constitution to allow for land expropriation without compensation as a key indicators.