The people of South Africa have once again reposed confidence in the African National Congress but there are challenges ahead both from the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Front (EFF) that have made inroads in urban and rural areas respectively.
The May 7 general election in South Africa recorded an impressive voter turnout of 73.4%. Even if it was slightly down from 77.3% in the 2009 election, it reflects the deep attachment the rural African masses have with the African National Congress (ANC), which retained its hold on power.
The ANC also won 8 of the 9 provinces. Its loss of the Western Cape to the Democratic Alliance (DA) was expected but the decline in its support in the Gauteng province (from 64.0% in 2009 to 53.6% now) should be cause for concern. The Democratic Alliance increased its popular vote from 16.7% to 22.2% and is now the main opposition party in 6 provinces in addition to controlling the Western Cape.
The newly formed Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) received an impressive 6.4% of the vote and has become the main opposition party in Limpopo and North West. The EFF also grabbed 25 parliamentary seats, compared with 89 for the DA and 249 for the ANC. South Africa’s parliament has a total of 400 seats.
What this shows is that the ANC now faces challenges on two fronts. Its rural vote bank will be affected by the EFF while the DA is making inroads in the urban areas. Unless the ANC top brass pays serious attention to these challenges, it may find itself banished to the opposition benches in the not too distant future.