Ramaphosa's acclaim rescues ANC fortunes

President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the media and the public after casting his vote at his home town of Tshiawelo in Soweto. His party, ANC, has won all national elections since 1994.
President Cyril Ramaphosa addresses the media and the public after casting his vote at his home town of Tshiawelo in Soweto. His party, ANC, has won all national elections since 1994.
Image: Michele Spatari / AFP

President Cyril Ramaphosa's popularity appears to have saved the ANC as some voters split their votes - choosing him in the national ballot but snubbing his party in the provincial vote.

A trend in which voters split their national and provincial votes, in support of Ramaphosa nationally, emerged in Gauteng, Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Mpumalanga with more than half of voting districts declared last night.

By 6.30pm last night, the ANC was set to retain control of the national government as they were hovering around 56% - with about half the votes having been counted.

The DA had just more than 22%, while the EFF had received just under 10%. Freedom Front Plus were a surprise package, amassing more than 200,000 votes.

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In Gauteng and Western Cape, with more than 50% of all voting districts tallied and declared, the ANC enjoyed a three percent additional support nationally. In KZN and Mpumalanga, the party recorded more than 1% additional support nationally.

The results are in line with the results of the internal ANC survey made public ahead of the elections, which found that Ramaphosa was more popular than the party among voters.

ANC head of elections Fikile Mbalula said the voting patterns were not surprising as the ANC was aware of Ramaphosa's popularity.

"The positive mood around our president and the New Dawn is reflected in the votes in which people give Ramaphosa more votes at national for the ANC." He said some voters snubbed the party on the provincial ballot because of the perceptions that some of their leaders were involved in corruption.

"There are a whole lot of challenges that we have faced in different provinces, organisationally, which implicated on the perceptions broadly in society that we are more about ourselves and our families.

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"From one province to the other, we will make up our minds about those numbers, probably by Monday. but if you pick up the trend, that could be the factors," he said.

ANC spokesperson Pule Mabe agreed that Ramaphosa's popularity was an advantage for the party.

"The public standing of President Ramaphosa and his own appeal to the broader spectrum of the electorates was one key determining factor towards the ANC driving a campaign that will be able to inspire the hope of our people.

DA federal chairperson James Selfe said they were aware of the trend.

"There's that phenomenon, we want to know how widespread it is, we will do our own analysis," Selfe said.

Political analyst Ralf Mathekga said: "The process of splitting the vote is a very complex phenomenon. It could be the case that very educated groups of people we call the middle- class are the ones that might have voted that way."

He added: "It essentially means the president has more approval than the party."

Another Political analyst, Angelo Fick, said: "This is where they (voters) believe one party is good for the national government and they want to see a change or signal, a warning to that party at provincial level."

- Additional reporting by Kgothatso Madisa

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