Focus on Tshwane as key battle ground for local government elections

African News Agency (ANA)

Electoral Commission of SA (IEC)
Electoral Commission of SA (IEC)

The long-held narrative that August 3 local government polls will see its fiercest battle in Nelson Mandela Bay has waned in favour of a focus on Tshwane where the outcome could be as wide open as the Highveld sky, but only according to some.

Ipsos’s latest data, released late on Monday, showed the African National Congress (ANC) at 47 percent in the capital, with the Democratic Alliance (DA) not far behind at 43 percent and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) at nine percent.

This compared to the market research company predicting the DA to claim 44 percent of the vote in Nelson Mandela Bay to wrest control of the metro from the ANC, which Ipsos polled at 37 percent.

It appears to bury the notion that bringing in Danny Jordaan as mayor would yet spare the ANC losing power here.

The Ipsos study, which follows on weekly telephone surveys commissioned by eNCA and differs from those, has a sizeable stated error margin of 1.6 to 5.6 percent for Tshwane and 2.1 to 8.3 percent for Nelson Mandela Bay.

Ipsos put the numbers for Johannesburg at 46 percent for the ANC and 41 percent for the DA, with the EFF likely to score about eight percent of the vote, and said with such a slim difference it was not possible either to predict who would govern the country’s economic centre after this poll.

“They survey results in the City of Johannesburg and the City of Tshwane are indicating that the possible result in these is definitely too close to call. However, it seems as if the DA is doing very well and is ahead in the race to win control in Nelson Mandela Bay,” Ipsos said.

Academic and political analyst Steven Friedman said he was prepared to venture that the ANC would emerge as the biggest party in Tshwane, but would not necessarily garner more than 50 percent of the votes in the capital.

“Based on my research, by far the likeliest outcome is that the ANC will be the biggest party but not secure a majority.”

He said he based his forecast not on polls, confessing a particular distrust of telephone research in this regard, but on the many by-elections in the region in the past two years.

In Johannesburg, Friedman said, President Jacob Zuma’s relative unpopularity with ANC voters, and ANC politicians, should not translate into optimism about the DA’s fortunes.

If DA insiders are in agreement with this off the record, many believe the party has a chance of securing the most votes in Tshwane, though not a majority.

“It is combination of the capital being winnable and the recent violence that turned the spotlight on Tshwane,” a politician who asked not be named told ANA.

The protests that shook Mamelodi and Hammanskraal over the nomination of Thoko Didiza as mayoral candidate in a bid to smooth over faction fighting in the ANC, indicated that instead it deepened the tensions troubling the party in Pretoria.

With higher turnout traditionally favouring the opposition at the polls, the DA’s chances of claiming Tshwane — a goal often voiced by former party leader Helen Zille — would be further boosted should the capital’s voters come out in numbers on Wednesday.

The Ipsos poll noted that an unusually high number of voters, between 10 and 20 percent, had by last week not decided for whom to vote. It recorded average approval ratings of just under five percent for President Jacob Zuma and DA leader Mmusi Maimane. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa fared slightly better with an average 5.7 percent.

Fifty-seven percent of those interviewed agreed with the suggestion that the ANC had “lost its moral compass” and 52 percent that the DA spoke too much and did too little.

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