Vote counting: Political parties hold cards close to chest

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Pretoria – By lunchtime on Thursday – after the IEC had announced that half of all votes had been counted – analysts and political party leaders were still keeping their cards close to their chest on how they thought their parties would fare once the last votes get counted.

But leaders from the top three parties on the leader board – the African National Congress (ANC), Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – battled to hide their satisfaction when talking about how they had done so far.

After 3pm, 63.06% of all the national votes had been counted.

The ANC had the lion’s share and led the pack with 63.62%, or 5.97 million votes, followed by the DA at 21.74% (2.04 million votes), with the EFF coming in at third place with 4.93% (463 178 votes).

In spot interviews with SAnews, all parties chose not to put the cart before the horse when pressed for comment.

Gwede Mantashe, the ANC’s Secretary General, said he was “comfortable” with where the party was after lunchtime.

He said, however, that despite half the votes having been counted, it was still too soon to predict how many seats they would have at the end, or whether they will win the elections with a two-thirds majority.

“Although we would like to do much better than we are doing, we are relaxed and comfortable with the progress we are making.

“You remember predictions were putting us below 60%? We are well above the 60% mark. We are doing well. We are going to improve. We have really disappointed our detractors,” he said.

Despite the surprising debut of the EFF into SA politics, who were contending at third place in the national and provincial results, Mantashe said he was not surprised by the trend.

He also said the party was panicking in the morning when numbers from the Western Cape votes came in at below 20% - the DA’s stronghold - but was satisfied with how the results have picked up so far.

DA Parliamentary caucus leader Lindiwe Mazibuko said the party would await more votes to come in from bigger metro cities until they could pronounce whether the party was happy with the outcomes so far.

While the DA’s stronghold has been the Western Cape, they have been hoping to win over Gauteng from the ANC in these elections.

“Until the [votes from metros come in], we don’t have a clear indication of where the votes lies in [Gauteng], but we are very happy with the results that are coming in from other provinces like the Free State, where it looks like we are about to become the official opposition, and KwaZulu-Natal, which looks like a possibility, and the Northern Cape, where were have doubled our support,” she said.

EFF national spokesperson Mbuyiseni Ndlozi said despite over half the votes being counted, it was too soon to pop the champagne.

“We think that there is still time to speak about comfort later. At the moment, we are calm and still trying to see what the numbers are telling us,” he said.

Political analyst Ebrahim Fakir said trends were pointing to a possibility of the ANC winning 64% of the votes if the voter turnout is high.

He said the EFF’s showing so far was not indicative of how the EFF would do until counting had been done in metro areas. He said, however, it did look like the new party would get a few seats in Parliament. – SAnews.gov.za

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