DA ‘will have to work harder’ after losing support in Kouga

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The DA in the Eastern Cape will have to dig deep and probe why it lost support in the Kouga municipal region – the only municipality it governs in the Eastern Cape – and try to correct that.
This was said by DA Eastern Cape leader Nqaba Bhanga on Thursday as results from Wednesday’s national and provincial elections showed the party had dropped an average of 10 percentage points, to below 50%, in the region compared with the 2016 municipal elections, when it received 56.6% of the vote.
The vote-counting and capturing of the results in Kouga were completed at about 1pm on Thursday.
The results showed the Freedom Front Plus gaining significant ground in the DArun municipality.
The ANC has grown by one percentage point to 41%.
The rest of the votes are spread between the EFF and Good. While these results will not have any bearing on the DA’s control of the Kouga municipality – as it is a national and provincial election – it is an indication that the party’s support has waned.
And while Bhanga maintains the result has no bearing on how the party will fare in the 2021 local government elections, some political analysts say it could be a precursor of the next municipal poll.
Bhanga said the FF Plus gaining ground in Kouga was the trend across SA and could not be factored into voting trends in local government.
“We have seen the rise of the Freedom Front in certain areas generally,” he said.
“But the DA continues to grow in the country.
“The DA will have to work harder to regain its traditional voting base.
“We believe that [FF Plus] support is not sustainable because the DA will continue to grow.”
Asked what this meant for the party leading up to 2021, Bhanga said: “It means we must go and look at what happened and correct that.”
Independent political analyst Gogo Aubrey Matshiqi warned that the DA’s underperformance would be a bad reflection on party leader Mmusi Maimane.
“If the DA in the end gets around 23% [nationally], that is serious underperformance because it will mean they have not improved at all compared to the 2014 results,” he said.
Matshiqi said this could then be the end of Maimane’s reign as party leader.
“The first casualty of that election outcome would be Mmusi Maimane – the next six months or so inside the DA is going to be very interesting.
“There is going to be a tension-filled space and [the party] will try to deal with this result, and it is highly unlikely that Maimane will be the leader of the DA at the time of the local government elections in 2021,” he said.
“In fact, it is highly unlikely that he will make it to the next federal congress of the DA.”
Matshiqi said the general elections were a referendum of Maimane’s leadership as an alternative to the ANC.
He was basing his analysis on the initial projection that the ANC would garner 67% of the votes nationally, the DA about 32% and the EFF about 9%, and that in Gauteng the ANC would get about 48% and the EFF would improve both nationally and in the Eastern Cape.
Analyst Prof Mcebisi Ndletyana said the decline in support for the DA was proof that the party’s conservatism had become insignificant.
He said that white voters were beginning to leave the DA for the FF Plus in pursuit of someone who could defend their interests.
“That is where the problem started and it grew with the popularity of land reform and expropriation without compensation.
“It created a lot of anxiety and they had to look around for their defender to resuscitate the DA of old with the fightback campaign.
“The FF Plus saw that gap and exploited it and its campaign was pretty much the reincarnation of the DA campaign of 1999.
“That is why you have white voters leaving the DA for the FF Plus.”

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