Gains put Zille on track to be big winner in election

WITH a decisive electoral victory in hand‚ ANC leaders yesterday underlined the urgency of getting the economy right and of the need for continuity in government economic programmes and policies over the next five years.

Projections yesterday put the ANC's share of the final vote at 63.3%, down 2.6% percentage points on its 2009 tally. This was despite a tough campaign‚ which saw its alliance partner Cosatu partly demobilised by internal factionalism‚ an escalation of community protests in the months leading up to the vote and fierce contestation from opposition parties to both right and left.

According to the projections calculated by the CSIR‚ which are typically accurate to within 0.5% percentage points‚ the DA will finish with 22% of the vote‚ followed by the Economic Freedom Fighters with 4.8% and IFP with 2.4%.

The big losers are COPE‚ Agang‚ the PAC and Azapo‚ the last three of which may not secure a single seat in parliament.

Actual counting was still under way last night, with 89% of the vote counted by 10.30pm. The final results are expected late today or tomorrow.

Out of counted votes at that time the ANC had 62.8% of the vote‚ the DA 21.9% and EFF 5.5%.

Chief electoral officer Mosotho Moepya‚ in the final briefing for the day‚ said that turnout in the voting districts captured so far was a steady 72.85%. This was slightly lower than the 2009 turnout of 75%.

"At this rate it would seem as if we are on course to see over 18 million votes cast in this national election. This will exceed the 17.9 million votes cast in 2009 and the 15.6 million votes cast in 2004‚" he said.

Head of the ANC's election campaign Malusi Gigaba said yesterday that party leaders were very aware of the need to get the economy growing in an inclusive manner.

ANC treasurer-general Zweli Mkhize said the starting point for the economy remained the National Development Plan (NDP)‚ which invited a greater engagement between the government and the private sector in "creating team SA".

While there is no indication yet of the choices that ANC president Jacob Zuma will make for his cabinet following his inauguration on May 24‚ ANC insiders are not expecting extensive change to the economics team.

Should the CSIR projections hold‚ the DA is likely to be the biggest winner of the election with a growth of 5.4 percentage points.

It will also probably establish itself as the official opposition in three or possibly four new provinces: Northern Cape‚ Eastern Cape and Free State where COPE was formerly the second-biggest party, and possibly also in KwaZulu-Natal where it could displace the Inkatha Freedom Party.

It is also poised to make significant gains in the Eastern Cape and could double its proportion of the vote from 7.4% in 2009 to a projected 15.6%.

The EFF looks set to become the official opposition in Limpopo where it will displace the DA by taking 10% of the vote. In the North West‚ where the EFF expected to do particularly well due to its strong support among mine workers on the platinum belt‚ it could also get around 10% of the vote. – Carol Paton. Additional reporting by Natasha Marrian