Early election results suggest ANC will need to form coalition to stay in power in South Africa

Support for party looks set to fall to lowest level since end of apartheid

Early results from South Africa’s general election suggest the ruling African National Congress party is set to lose the parliamentary majority it has held for 30 years.

Election modelling conducted by the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research has predicted support for the ANC at 42 per cent once the ballots are all counted, which would be a disastrous outcome for the ruling party. In the 2019 general election the ANC won 57.5 per cent of the vote.

Were these predictions borne out, president Cyril Ramaphosa’s party would need to form a coalition with at least one other political party to stay in power. Such a scenario would mark the first time since the end of apartheid in 1994 that the ANC has not won a general election outright.

With 29.49 per cent of the 23,293 voting districts tallied by Thursday evening, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) had put support for the ANC at 42.47 per cent. The Democratic Alliance (DA) appeared to have secured its position as the country’s main opposition with 25.08 per cent.


The radical left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters were polling in third place on 8.97 per cent of the vote while former president Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party was running fourth with 8.64 per cent.

The ANC’s predicted demise appears to have come at the hands of the recently formed MK party, which was preforming exceptionally well in KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), Mr Zuma’s home province.

With 11.82 per cent of the votes tallied in KZN, the MK party was leading strongly with 42.55 per cent of the vote compared to the ANC’s 20.72 per cent. In 2019 the ANC won 55.47 per cent of the vote in the coastal province. The MK party was formed in December.

Mr Zuma was South Africa’s president until February 2018. He stood down under pressure from the ANC, after he was accused at a public sector inquiry of facilitating widespread corruption during his nine-year tenure.

After falling out with his ANC colleagues he re-emerged in December to front the MK party.

In the run-up to Wednesday’s election South Africa’s constitutional court barred him from running for parliament because of a contempt of court conviction he received in 2021. Nevertheless, voters in KZN and elsewhere have come out to support him in large numbers.

In the Western Cape Province, a DA stronghold, support for the party stood at 50.23 per cent after 35.56 per cent of the votes were counted, with the ANC coming in second on 20.37 per cent.

In Gauteng Province, South Africa’s economic heartland, support for the ANC with 13.41 per cent of the vote counted was at 34.54 per cent. The DA was close behind in second place on 29.85 per cent of the ballot.

According to election officials most of the votes counted on Thursday were from rural areas, which traditionally support the ANC. The voter turnout for the election was 58.62 per cent of South Africa’s nearly 28-million registered voters.

A definitive picture of how political parties have fared in the general election should emerge on Friday evening, with the final result expected by Sunday.

Bill Corcoran

Bill Corcoran

Bill Corcoran is a contributor to The Irish Times based in South Africa