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By Alec Hogg*
The most bizarre, but perhaps most predictable reaction to the ANC’s election victory came from the party’s own secretary general, Ace Magashule. The former Free State premier, whose allegedly corrupt actions are in the spotlight, claimed on the record that Ramaphosa had nothing to do with the ANC’s win.
It’s easy to appreciate that Ace is talking his own book. Because, like eThekwini mayor Zandile Gumede, out on bail of R50,000, corrupted ANC bigwigs like Magashule have to discredit anyone who could hasten their imprisonment.
What did surprise me, though, was former Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille’s similar line. She rejects the notion that Ramaphosa pulled traditional DA supporters to the ANC. Zille offers no evidence beyond her own conviction. The facts suggest she, and Magashule, are dead wrong.
From private conversations and social media engagement we have all seen plenty evidence of people who decided to vote strategically in this election – for instance those who stayed with the DA locally, but voted ANC nationally.
Indeed, there was a clear indication of this trend in our pre-election poll of the Biznews Community.
But talk is cheap, as we saw from the same poll’s apparent support for the ZACP which only managed half the votes needed to secure a Parliamentary seat. So I dived into the IEC’s official numbers to find evidence of the Ramaphosa effect – one way or the other.
The question seems rather obvious: Compare votes which each major political party harvested at the national level with their total in the provinces. If the national vote for the ANC was below the sum of its provincial votes, then Ace and Helen would be vindicated. If not, well, they’d be shown to have shared hot air.
But what appeared to be a simple exercise turned out to be a lot more complicated.
After inputting all the data, checking and double checking the numbers, an initially alarming discrepancy arose. The official Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) numbers have 17.44m people voting in the national election. But only 16.86m provincial votes counted – a discrepancy of 580,000.
Around 20,000 expats voted, South Africans abroad who were not entitled to participate in any provincial ballot. But that only reduced the difference between the national and provincial count to a still substantial 560,000.
I was eventually guided to the reason by Adrian Frith, the DA’s data guru, who provided the most rational of explanations.
Those 560,000 votes, he explained, had been cast by people who went to a voting station in a different province from where they are registered.
So unlike the other 96.7% of the voting population, these unfortunate citizens were only allowed to cast a national ballot. Frith said he was among: registered in Cape Town but in Johannesburg on election day, thus losing his provincial vote.
That makes sense when you consider those 560,000 are a modest 3.3% of the total.
But what doesn’t make sense for the Magashule and Zille argument is how, at the national level, the ANC received a touch over 645,000 more votes than it did provincially – a hefty 311,954 more of its natural 57.5% share of the “national only” votes would suggest.
The reason for this, too, is clear.
Despite the drag caused by a national list contaminated with exposed miscreants like Mokonyane, Gigaba and Mahlobo, the ANC managed to pull more than 300,000 national votes away from other political parties. A reflection of Ramaphosa’s broad appeal.
Our table carries the relevant voting data on major political parties in the 2019 Election. It clearly quantifies how the ANC, FF+ and COPE pulled national votes away from those with traditional provincial loyalties.
It shows almost 200,000 DA voters abandoned the party at the national level, moving mostly from Mmusi to Cyril. And how there were similar switches on their national voting decision by provincial supporters of the EFF and IFP.
Most important of all, the numbers quantify what most of us had already intuitively suspected – barring Magashule and Zille of course – that the Ramaphosa effect was a major factor in the ANC winning the election. And how his message of hope did, indeed, strike a chord with the nation.
- Alec Hogg is the founder and editor of Biznews.com
Cyril Ramaphosa: The Audio Biography
Listen to the story of Cyril Ramaphosa's rise to presidential power, narrated by our very own Alec Hogg.