Advocating changes in the game plan

Wednesday, 12 March 2014

Dali Mpofu, advocate now turned politician in the cause of Julius Malema's Economic Freedom Fighters, was in the YFM studios at Hyde Park on Monday night.

It's the station's weekly election show called The Swing Vote where politicians get to interact with the country's biggest group of young voters. After the show, Mpofu and I gathered briefly in the rain to take a picture for twitter.

“So what do you think?” I asked him. “Do you believe that you will take enough votes so the ANC will drop below 50 percent in Gauteng?”

“Oh, you mean the City Press story?” he replied. “Yes, I believe so.”

I continued: “So you guys will rule the province in coalition with the ANC?”

He was adamant that they would not. “We would rather form a coalition with the DA.”


His reasoning was logical. If they went into coalition with the ANC, then they would not have a chance of defeating the ANC in the following elections.

“Ah,” I said. “So you learnt a lesson from how Patricia de Lille stuffed up in the Western Cape.”

“Exactly,” he said. “So if we make the DA drop below 50 percent in the Western Cape and the ANC drop below 50 percent in Gauteng, the DA can run the Western Cape and we will run Gauteng.”

It was an interesting thought.

I had not at that stage seen the City Press story Mpofu was referring to – I had taken the weekend off to go to a lodge at the Welgevonden Game Reserve where there is no cellphone signal or internet connectivity. I've since read it.

In essence, the City Press article quotes an unnamed ANC branch chairperson saying they were told confidentially of the results of three separate surveys of expected election results in Gauteng, all of which put the ANC below 50%.

Quote: “One survey arrived at 40%, another at 43% and the last one was real bad at 36%. So it is bad. But at least there was a battle plan. The mistake we made was to underestimate Julius [Malema’s] boys.”

I'm generally sceptical of anonymous sources in the Sunday papers but this time I tended to agree. My question to Mpofu had been based on my own reasoning.

Here's my thinking: The ANC’s vote in the province of Gauteng had dropped below 60 percent in the municipal elections of 2011. This meant that barely 6 out of 10 people who voted in the last election had voted for the ANC.

If only one of those six voters votes for another political party in the next election, the ANC will drop below the 50 percent mark, forcing the province into coalition politics.

My reasoning also is that the party most likely to take votes away from the ANC’s traditional power base is the EFF.

So my speculation up until now was that the most likely provincial government for Gauteng after the upcoming election would be an ANC/EFF coalition.Mpofu’s very insightful take on what his party’s stance would be toward a coalition has shot that theory to hell.

So I have now begun looking at alternative scenarios for the province, and all of them are fascinating.

So, let’s recap the last poll: The African National Congress led with 59,66% followed by the Democratic Alliance at 33,43% and Congress of the People at 1,04%.

No, I have not made a mistake. No other party got more than 1 percent of the vote in the 2011 elections.

Let us now work under the assumption that Cope gets wiped out in this election. Let’s also assume that AgangSA, which could have been a contender, will now become another rats-and-mice under 1 percent party.

The only parties capable of forming a government will be the ANC and the EFF, the DA and the EFF, and the ANC and the DA.

So I have a great deal of sympathy at this point for the DA’s Gauteng candidate for Premier, Mmusi Maimane.

There is no doubt that the DA will increase its base this election as it has done consistently over the past 20 years. There is also no doubt that the DA will not get a majority.

Maimane’s choice will then be to either form a government with the EFF or form a government with the ANC. Neither choice will be palatable.

The most likely result, in my estimation, is that he will choose neither. The ANC will put forward a candidate for premier who will be voted in by default. The ANC will then form a cabinet.

But the complexion of South African politics will be irrevocably altered.

The ANC will not be able to pass any legislation without the support of either the EFF or the DA.

Every line item on the provincial budget will be subject to approval by one or the other of the opposition parties.

It will mean, definitively, an end to corruption in the provincial administration.

Am I correct? I've got until May to change my mind.

(Oh, and Dali? I need my red beret please.)