FS ANC dominates polls but opposition grows

Dr Choice Makhetha

The results are out and the African National Congress remains the ruling party in South Africa and the Free State. This comes after the party won more than 60% of votes during national and provincial elections on Wednesday.

According to Mmathabo Rasengane of the Free State Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) this means that the party has won 230 and 19 seats in Parliament and FS Provincial Legislature, respectively. This allows the party to elect a premier and speaker of legislature from among its ranks.

According to political expert, Dr Choice Makhetha, the Ramaphosa effect has been a key factor in the win. “The ANC’s strength is the president of the party. This is because of his experience in business and politics. Ramaphosa has been there right from the beginning leading negotiations,” she said.

Makhetha explained that Cyril Ramaphosa, who has been serving as interim president since former President Jacob Zuma stepped down, has also won citizens over through personality. “More than anything it is because of his personality. You can be charismatic but humility goes a long way and he has the ability to connect with people. He talks to people in a way that shows that he is present and deeply cares. The ANC will benefit because of him in that way,” expressed Makhetha.

However, the FS ANC has taken a knock as they will have to surrender 3 provincial legislature seats to the opposition. The Democratic Alliance and Economic Freedom Fighters won more seats compared to the last elections in 2014. As a result, the DA now has added one more seat and sits at 6 members in legislature. The EFF adds two more members, making four seats in the provincial body.

This shows growth in opposition parties in the region as voters turned out to voting stations to choose state leadership for the next five years.  Makhetha explained that political competition is key in service delivery. “In order for democracy to work well we need a stronger opposition. So it will be good for the Free State and the country to have gains in the EFF and DA. When you want service delivery then you make sure that there is a balance between the ruling party and the opposition,” said Makhetha.

The Freedom Front Plus maintains one seat in the Free State rounding off the 30-seat provincial legislative structure. – Nomaqhawe Mtebele