South Africa elections: What the numbers are saying

People queue to cast their votes in the South African elections in Durban, South Africa May 29, 2024. REUTERS/Alaister Russell

South Africans await the results from their national and provincial elections.

South Africans went to the polls on May 29 to vote in the national and provincial elections. The country’s constitution does not make provision for the direct election of a president.

Instead, members of the National Assembly are elected and the party which wins the majority will go on to vote for a president within 30 days of the general elections.

The country’s Electoral Commission (IEC) voting concluded at 3 am on May 29 with all queued voters assisted by 9 pm. Voter turnout was 58.48%.

The first result was announced just after midnight in Eastern Cape. This is the country’s 7th election since 1994 when the first elections were held with black participation.

Who is leading? Who is losing?

Vote counting is ongoing with complete results from 20% of voting districts. This means vote counting in 4,838 of 23293 voting districts is completed according to IEC.  

Per the provisional results, the African National Congress (ANC), South Africa’s biggest party is leading by 43.37% with 971963 votes for members of the National Assembly. They are followed by the Democratic Alliance (DA), the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), and the latest party to join the race, uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK).

Below are the figures of the top 10 as provided by the Electoral Commission

ANC – 971963 votes – 43.37% support

DA    -  555813 votes – 24.8%

EFF   - 199449 votes – 8.9%

M.K. – 180143 votes – 8.04%

PA – 91329 votes – 4.08%

IFP – 43712 votes – 1.95%

VF PLUS – 41464 votes – 1.85%

ACTIONSA – 18180 votes – 0.81%

ACDP – 13951 – 0.62%

UDM – 11801 – 0.53%

What the Constitution says about a ‘no majority’ result

This is the first time the ANC appears to be getting less than 50% votes after an election. Projections from analysts including the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) predict a less than 50% win for ANC, which is a drop from the 57% it obtained in the 2019 election. The IEC’s provisional results indicate a heavy loss for ANC in Kwa Aulu-Natal, Zuma’s home province where the latter is leading with 43% of the votes. The South African Constitution does not make provision for how a coalition should be in the face of a less than 50% vote for the leading party but there are a few options.

Smaller groups could agree to support the leading party to achieve its 50% mark on a vote-by-vote basis in return for some concessions, the BBC reports.

Otherwise, the leading party will have to engage in a formal coalition with some parties, including a written agreement with legislative plans and the distribution of cabinet posts.  

Biggest contenders?

The ANC is South Africa’s biggest party having come into power 30 years ago in 1994. From Nelson Mandela’s regime through to ruling president Cyril Ramaphosa, the ANC has dominated elections in South Africa, forming the majority in the National Assembly consistently.

Cyril Ramaphosa of the ANC is going up against his closest rivals John Steenhuisen of the DA and Julius Malema of the EFF. A new dynamic that added to the race this year is the emergence of MK’s Jacob Zuma. The former president’s presidential aspirations did not come without controversy. Zuma who was ousted by Ramaphosa amidst corruption allegations which he denies was taken to court and jailed over the use of its name which was taken from the ANC’s former armed wing. A court ruling said the former president could not run for parliament because of his 15-month prison sentence but he still appeared on the ballot paper. Zuma is said to be a contending force in his home province KwaZulu-natal.

When will the results be announced?

Vote counting is ongoing, and the Electoral Commission is expected to announce final results by June 2.

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