South Africa after the 2024 elections: what comes next?

 ·25 Apr 2024

While numerous pre-election polls predict that the incumbent African National Congress (ANC) will take a hit in electoral support in the coming elections, South Africa’s seventh democratic administration will most likely still see the ANC in the driving seat.

If the ANC does, in fact, get below the 50% +1 for an outright majority as many predict, the question of who the party will get into bed with is the next big concern.

Different views of this were discussed at Nedgroup Investment’s pre-election roundtable on 24 April 2024, where independent political analyst J.P Landman and senior economist at Nedbank, Isaac Matshego outlined various scenarios that could play out.

“South Africa is clearly a one-party dominant state up to now, and the expectation is that we will stop being that at the end of May… that may or may not happen, [but] I think people are perhaps getting a little bit ahead of themselves,” said Landman.

Despite this apprehension to jump the gun, numerous outcomes are being laid bare and analysed with a fine-toothed comb, particularly if the ruling party loses its outright majority.

Landman and Matshego said that most of these scenarios presented should not be considered election predictions but rather hypotheses based on underlying trends.

The end of the one-party state – and deeper fragmentation

In this scenario, Landman said that instead of a major growth in party dominance, the 2024 elections would lead to a fragmentation of South Africa’s political landscape.

After the 2019 national elections, 14 political parties made it to parliament. Three of these parties shared 89% of the vote, with the 11 others sharing the remaining 11%.

Looking at these parties, the African National Congress (ANC) received 57.3% of the vote, followed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) with 20.17%, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) with 10.19%, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) with 3.38%, and the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) with 2.38%.

The top five parties collectively received 93% of the vote, while the remaining nine parties in parliament received less than 1% each.

The 2021 local government elections saw the ANC take a big hit in its support base, dropping over 10% to receive 45.6% of the vote.

Landman said that given the country’s pressing issues, such as sky-high unemployment, one would think that the votes lost by the ANC would go to the ‘bigger’ official opposition parties (DA and EFF) – but this was not the case.

What was seen was that newly established parties (like ActionSA) and “smaller parties” (below the double-digit percentage mark) received a major boost in support.

Landman thinks this will again be the case in the May 29th elections, with South Africa’s post-election landscape showing much “more fragmentation,” especially given the proliferation of new parties and the inclusion of independent candidates on the ballots.

“I think that’s the number one thing – more support for smaller parties,” said Landman.

Whether it’s Herman Mashaba’s ActionSA, Songezo Zibi’s Rise Mzanzi, Mmusi Maimane’s Build One South Africa (BOSA), Gayton McKenzie’s Patriotic Alliance (PA) or, of course, Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe Party (MKP), these parties are likely to garner decent support.

Speaking about the new and ‘smaller’ parties, Landman said that Zuma’s MKP is “doing well” and will “keep the EFF down” – however, he doubts that it would exceed the 5% mark at a national level.

Additionally, he expects the PA to give the DA a major headache in the only province it governs, the Western Cape, by eating into a chunk of its support.

Possible coalitions

Nedbank senior economist Isaac Matshego said that the banking group has anticipated three election coalition outcomes.

Nedbank’s “most likely” outcome is a coalition between the ANC and IFP or other ‘smaller parties’.

This coalition is predicted by the group if the ANC falls “just short” of the 50% + 1 mark, which means that they would not need a party with a double digit popular vote percentage to get over the line.

The next coalition outcome is that between the ANC and the DA, which Matshego expects would greatly “liberalise the economy.”

The coalition that Nedbank labels as the “extreme left” outcome would be a coalition between the ANC and EFF. However, Matshego believes that this is the “most unlikely due to factions and extreme demands from the EFF.”

Matshego and Landman noted that it is unlikely for the ANC and EFF to go into a coalition at a national level but remains likely at provincial levels, particularly in Gauteng and KwaZulu Natal.

Landman said that his hope is for “a stable government, which can rule for five years with predictability and a high degree of efficiency,” and pins this on an ANC and DA coalition, which would force them to “stop their nonsense.”

However, he doubts this would be the case if an effective coalition governing agreement is not drafted and agreed to. Based on prevalent ailments in coalitions at various local government levels, Landman is unsure if “our politics [has] reached that degree of maturity,” yet.

Coalition pacts

Landman said the idea of the Multi-Party Charter (comprised of the DA, IFP, ActionSA, FF +, African Christian Democratic Party, United Christian Democratic Party, and the United Independent Movement) taking over at a national level is beyond unlikely – given that they are collectively polling at just over 30% nationally.

“They may do well here in Gauteng, and we will see how they do in KwaZulu-Natal, but changing the national government, just forget that,” he said.

Landman also thinks a coalition pact of ‘left-aligned’ parties may form after the May 29 elections, similar to the Multi-Party Charter’s coalition pact of ‘right-leaning’ parties.

This includes parties like the EFF, MKP, Ace Magashule’s African Congress for Transformation and the African Transformation Movement.

Landman believes that this is a good thing because “we will have a radical economic transformation on the left, free marketeers on the right and a kind of a social democratic party in the middle.”

This means that “we will get the reorientation of politics that will move us away from identity politics to politics of policy.”

Read: These are all the political parties and independents on the 2024 election ballots

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