People drive cars past electoral campaign posters on an highway in Kenilworth, Cape Town. Picture: RODGER BOSCH / AFP
People drive cars past electoral campaign posters on an highway in Kenilworth, Cape Town. Picture: RODGER BOSCH / AFP

SA is gearing up for hotly contested national elections on Wednesday, and political parties are crisscrossing the country making last-ditch appeals to voters ahead of the crucial polls.

The counting of ballots is scheduled to start at 9pm, when voting stations close on Wednesday. The tallying will take place over the next few days, and final results are expected to be announced on May 11.

According to a recent opinion poll by research firm Ipsos, the ANC is on course to win its sixth straight national election, likely securing 61% of the vote based on a 71% voter turnout. This is despite damning bribery and corruption claims against government and ANC officials that have come up at the ongoing commission of inquiry into state capture.

The poll of 3,600 adults, who were interviewed face to face between March 22 and April 17, suggests that the DA would get 19%, with the EFF coming in at third securing 11% of the vote. No other party polled more than 2% support.

However, some political commentators and pollsters have suggested that the elections will bring about the possibility of coalitions at provincial level, with Gauteng, the country’s economic hub, and the Western Cape set to be key battlegrounds.

But coalitions have proved problematic in recent times. Following the municipal elections in 2016, several political parties joined forces to elect DA mayors in hung municipalities, including Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay. The collapse of the DA-led coalition rule in Nelson Mandela Bay in 2018 illustrated the fragility attached to such coalitions.

Meanwhile, the DA leadership is concerned that the party’s dominance in the Western Cape is under threat from “an ANC and EFF coalition”.

In a letter to party supporters last week, Alan Winde, the DA’s Western Cape premier candidate, cited the latest Institute of Race Relations poll, which shows that the party is in danger of losing its majority in the province. “The poll estimates that the DA currently stands at 50% — we are neck-and-neck with the ANC for control of the Western Cape! We cannot let the ANC/EFF coalition of corruption win! We must unite to keep corruption out of our province and vote DA on Wednesday May 8,” said Winde.

On Sunday, the ANC in the province said no coalition talks had taken place with any other political party and none were being considered.

“During last two weeks we have seen disgusting pamphlets and heard radio adverts created and circulated by the DA repeating this blatant lie,” said Ebrahim Rasool, the ANC’s head of elections in the Western Cape. “It is the DA [that] compromised their values when they joined the EFF in coalition in Tshwane and Johannesburg after the 2016 local government elections. It is therefore hypocritical of the DA to present their coalition partner as an obvious choice for the ANC when it is not,” said Rasool.

On Monday public protector Busisiwe Mkhwebane will hold a media briefing at her office in Pretoria to release investigation reports.

Former mineworkers, supported by civil society organisations, will picket outside parliament on Monday to demand accountability for unpaid benefits. “Our government frequently failed to live up to the obligation of paying back the monies owed to the ex-mineworkers,” they said in a statement.

“The ex-mineworkers decided to unite under the banner of Unpaid Benefits Campaign to ensure that both private companies and state-owned enterprises pay what is due to the ex-mineworkers. Fund members have been deprived of their benefits for too long and many have died, and still more will die, before the benefits earned by them are paid to them or their dependants.”