South African general election, 2014

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The 2014 South African general election will be held on 7 May 2014,to elect a new National Assembly as well as new provincial legislatures in each province. It will be the fifth election held under conditions of universal adult suffrage since the end of the apartheid era in 1994.

The National Assembly consists of 400 members elected by proportional representation with a closed list approach. Two hundred members will be elected from national party lists; the other 200 will be elected from provincial party lists in each of the nine provinces. The President of South Africa will be chosen by the National Assembly after the election. The premiers of each province will be chosen by the winning majority in each provincial legislature.

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) consists of 90 members, ten elected by each provincial legislature. The NCOP members will be elected by the provincial legislatures in proportion to the party makeup of the legislatures.

As it stands - SA elections 20014

As it stands – SA elections 20014

Political parties

The governing African National Congress (ANC), supported by its Tripartite Alliance with the Congress of South African Trade Unions (COSATU) and the South African Communist Party (SACP), have held a majority of the seats in the National Assembly since 1994. They were re-elected with increasing majorities in 1999 and 2004, and with a slight fall in its majority from 69% to 65.9% in 2009. The ANC is currently led by Jacob Zuma, who in 2012 was re-elected to a second five-year term as President of the African National Congress, beating his only rival and deputy, Kgalema Motlanthe, by a wide margin. Cyril Ramaphosa was elected as Deputy President of the ANC, succeeding Motlanthe who had declined a second term after losing to Zuma.

The official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) received 16.7% of the vote in 2009, up from 12.4% in 2004. The DA is led by Helen Zille, who was re-elected unopposed as Leader of the Democratic Alliance at the party’s Federal Congress in Gauteng, while Lindiwe Mazibuko continues as Leader of the Opposition in Parliament. At provincial level, the DA has been in power in the Western Cape province since 2009, and came to power in several Western Cape municipalities in the 2011 municipal elections.

The third largest party, Congress of the People (COPE), is led by Mosiuoa Lekota, although the leadership is disputed by Mbhazima Shilowa who continues to battle for recognition in the High Court. The party has been riven by infighting, causing it to lose much of its support and resulting in the formation of a splinter group, the United Congress.

Mangosuthu Buthelezi remains leader of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) despite a challenge by former IFP chairperson Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi, who went on to form the National Freedom Party (NFP) after her feud with Buthelezi. The NFP and IFP split the vote in the Zulu-dominated KwaZulu-Natal Province in the previous local government elections, both getting an even share of the vote, while the ANC continued to dominate the former IFP stronghold.

The IEC announced on 17 March that 33 parties had registered candidates for the national parliamentary election and in the provincial legislature elections the number of parties registering candidates are:

  • Western Cape – 26
  • Gauteng – 22
  • Limpopo – 20
  • Eastern Cape – 18
  • KwaZulu-Natal – 18
  • Free State – 17
  • Mpumalanga – 16
  • Northern Cape – 16
  • North West – 16

Four parties had not yet paid the required deposits and may have their participation cancelled if they fail to comply before the deadline on 24 March.

President Jacob Zuma promises to create 6 million new jobs if the ANC stays in power after the election

President Jacob Zuma promises to create 6 million new jobs if the ANC stays in power after the election

New parties


Several new parties will contest the election nationally and provincially:

Alliances and defections

The Independent Democrats party, which won 4 seats and 0.9% of the national vote in 2009, is set to merge with the Democratic Alliance before the 2014 general election.

On 17 December 2013, the South African Press Association reported that five opposition parties, namely COPE, the IFP, the African Christian Democratic Party, the United Christian Democratic Party and the Freedom Front Plus, had formed a coalition with 20 specific priorities. The parties in the coalition, named the Collective for Democracy (CD) and chaired by COPE leader Mosiuoa Lekota, will retain their own identity and contest the election individually. The IFP denied being part of the coalition, saying they are wary of forming such alliances given the confusion it had caused for their supporters in previous elections.

On 20 December 2013, COSATU’s largest affiliate NUMSA announced that they will not endorse the ANC or any other political party in 2014. NUMSA plans to establish a new working class collective along the lines of the defunct United Democratic Front, with the ultimate goal of forming a socialist party that will contest the 2019 general election. An opposing COSATU faction has obtained a legal opinion on removing NUMSA from COSATU, with significant implications for the country’s labour and political landscape.

On 28 January 2014, the DA announced that Mamphela Ramphele had accepted an invitation to stand as its presidential candidate in the 2014 general election, and the DA and Agang South Africa were set to merge. On 31 January 2014, Ramphele stated that she would not take up DA party membership and would remain the leader of Agang South Africa, resulting in confusion. On 2 February 2014, Helen Zille stated that Ramphele had reneged on her agreement to stand as the DA’s presidential candidate. Ramphele subsequently apologised for the reversal of her decision, saying that the timing was not right as the reaction to it had shown people were unable to overcome race-based party politics.

On 6 February 2014, it was reported that COPE members who support Mbhazima Shilowa plan to join the United Democratic Movement led by Bantu Holomisa which won 4 seats in the 2009 election. On 10 March 2014, it was reported that COPE MP Nqaba Bhangu had joined the DA as an Eastern Cape parliamentary candidate, and three COPE MPs, namely Juli Kilian, Leonard Ramatlakane and Nick Koornhof were included on the ANC’s list of national parliamentary candidates published on 11 March 2013. On 28 April 2014, it was reported that over 20 COPE MPs had defected to the ANC citing “poor political leadership”. The only COPE member in the KwaZulu-Natal Legislature, Lucky Gabela, subsequently also defected to the ANC citing internal conflict.

On 11 March 2014, Al Jama-ah and the Africa Muslim Party announced they would campaign together under the Al Jama-ah Community Party banner.

On 12 March 2014, it was reported that DA MP Beverley Abrahams had joined the ANC.

On 17 March 2014, Economic Freedom Fighters announced agreement to establish working relations with the Socialist Party of Azania (SOPA) and Black Consciousness Party (BCP). They will not independently stand for elections, and their candidates will be part of the EFF election 2014 candidates list as EFF members. EFF also have members of South Africa First (SAF) in the list who hold dual membership, this is despite the fact that South Africa First (SAF) has not yet formally agreed to them being on the EFF list, but its leadership collective has endorsed the lists.

On 20 March 2014, it was reported that DA MPs Lourie Bosman, Niekie van den Berg and Theo Coetzee were joining Freedom Front Plus on the party’s national candidates list for the 2014 election.

On 30 March 2014, it was reported in the Sunday Times that DA MP Mpowele Swathe had joined the United Christian Democratic Party (UCDP) after his name appeared on election candidate lists for both parties.

Campaign controversies

On 13 March 2014, violence erupted in the Bekkersdal township in Gauteng, the scene of violent service delivery protests in 2013. Residents staged a protest over a planned ANC campaign in the area, barricading the streets with rocks and burning tyres and pelting ANC officials and police vehicles with stones. Police responded to the volatile situation by firing rubber bullets at residents.

Shortly after Public Protector Thuli Madonsela‘s final report on security upgrades to President Jacob Zuma‘s private residence at Nkandla was published on 19 March 2014, the DA sent a bulk text message to Gauteng voters which reads: “The Nkandla report shows how Zuma stole your money to build his R246m home. Vote DA on 7 May to beat corruption. Together for change.” The ANC submitted an urgent application to the South Gauteng High Court to stop distribution of the text message on the grounds that it violated the Electoral Act. On 4 April 2014, the court ruled that the wording of the message was fair comment and dismissed the ANC’s application with costs.The ANC has been granted leave to appeal the decision.

ICASA ordered that this photograph of a police officer firing rubber bullets at unarmed residents during a protest in Bekkersdal over an ANC election campaign be removed from a DA election campaign television advert.

ICASA ordered that this photograph of a police officer firing rubber bullets at unarmed residents during a protest in Bekkersdal over an ANC election campaign be removed from a DA election campaign television advert.

On 11 April 2014, the DA submitted a complaint to ICASA about censorship by the public broadcaster after the SABC informed the DA it would not continue broadcasting a DA television advert titled “ANC Ayisafani”, meaning “the ANC’s not the same”, and five DA radio adverts aired on 8 and 9 April 2014. According to the DA’s Mmusi Maimane, who appears in the television advert, the SABC banned all DA adverts from 11 public radio stations as well as the television advert. ICASA announced that it would hold public hearings on the matter on Thursday, 17 April 2014. Following the DA’s announcement that it would submit an urgent application to the South Gauteng High Court requesting a ruling on the adverts before the long Easter weekend commencing Good Friday, 18 April 2014, the ICASA hearings commenced earlier on 15 April 2014. On 16 April 2014, the ban was lifted temporarily as the SABC had failed to provide reasons for the ban during the ICASA hearings and requested more time to prepare a response.The DA also objected to the SABC not allowing the national official opposition party to participate in a televised election debate on land reform on SABC 1 on 13 April 2014. On 25 April 2014, ICASA upheld the SABC’s ban on the television advert finding that it contravened ICASA’s regulations on party election broadcasts. ICASA ordered that a photograph taken by The Citizen photographer Alaister Russell of a police officer firing rubber bullets at unarmed residents during the March 2014 Bekkersdal protest be removed from the advert as “the police should not be seen as a threat to the community”. In the advert, Maimane says “We’ve seen a police force killing our own people” while the photograph is shown on the screen. The South African Police Service had earlier submitted a complaint to ICASA that this footage would incite violence against police officers.

Opposition party election campaigns have targeted corruption and public spending on President Jacob Zuma's private residence at Nkandla.

Opposition party election campaigns have targeted corruption and public spending on President Jacob Zuma’s private residence at Nkandla.

On 15 April 2014, a ballott spoiling protest campaign against corruption with the slogan “Vukani! Sidikwe! (Wake up! We are Fed up!) Vote No”, supported by over 100 ANC veterans, was launched by former government ministers Ronnie Kasrils and Nozizwe Madlala-Routledge. The IEC has requested a legal opinion on whether the campaign contravenes the Electoral Act.

On 15 April 2014, UDM leader Bantu Holomisa announced that lawyers acting on behalf of several opposition parties concerned about the credibility of the general election will approach the Electoral Court following the IEC chairperson Pansy Tlakula‘s refusal to agree to their call for her resignation. Public Protector Thuli Madonsela found Tlakula had been involved in building procurement irregularities in a report published in August 2013, and a subsequent National Treasury review published in March 2014 supported her findings.

On 22 April 2014, the EFF also lodged a complaint with ICASA after the SABC banned an EFF election campaign television advert titled “Now is the time for economic freedom” that was due to be aired on 20 and 22 April 2014. On 26 April 2014, ICASA upheld the SABC’s ban on the advert. ICASA found that wording in the advert about physically destroying contentious e-tolls in Gauteng could incite violence and therefore contravened ICASA’s regulations on party election broadcasts. The EFF advert had also highlighted police brutality, using interviews and photographs related to the Marikana massacre and the same photograph of the March 2014 Bekkersdal protest that ICASA ordered removed from the DA advert.

On 28 April 2014, a Parliamentary committee set up to consider Zuma’s response to Madonsela’s final Nkandla report was referred to the next Parliament to be formed after the election, citing insufficient time available before the 7 May election date.

On 2 May 2014, the Mail & Guardian newspaper “urged readers to oppose the ANC” for the first time, in order to dilute the ruling party’s “overweening political power”.

List of parties

As of 25 March, the parties listed below are expected to appear on the election ballot.

The following 12 parties are currently represented in the National Assembly and are contesting the National Assembly election.

List of parties

List of parties

The following 17 parties are not currently represented in the National Assembly and are contesting the National Assembly election.

Parties not in national assembly

Parties not in national assembly

The following 16 parties are only contesting provincial legislature elections.

Only provincial legislature elections

Only provincial legislature elections

Voter registration

On the weekends of 9–10 November 2013 and 8–9 February 2014 all voting stations were opened for new voters to register and for those who moved residence to re-register in their new voting district. Approximately 5.5 million people in total visited voting stations, including approximately 2.3 million new voters. This increased the number of registered voters to 25.3 million, representing 80.5% of the 31.4 million people eligible to vote in the country.South Africans who were born after the 1994 general election, known as the born-free generation, and are aged 18 or older will be eligible to vote for the first time.

Born-free generation registering to vote for the first time in the 2014 general election

Born-free generation registering to vote for the first time in the 2014 general election

On 26 November 2013 the Electoral Amendment Act, 2013, came into force. It allows South African citizens resident outside South Africa to register and vote in the election of the National Assembly.

Opinion polling

National ballot

Opinion polling

Opinion polling

According to an internal poll conducted by the DA with American pollster Stan Greenberg in March–April 2014, the ANC would get 59% of the vote, the DA 26% and the EFF 8%.

In an Ipsos Markinor survey of 1,000 registered ANC members conducted for the Sunday Times in December 2013, 55% of respondents said they will vote for the ANC again, 5% said they will vote for the DA, 6% said they will vote for other parties, and the remaining 34% said they did not know or preferred not to answer.

According to the results of an Ipsos Pulse of the People survey published in February 2014, the DA is the most multi-racial party while the ANC has 96% black supporters and the EFF has 99% black supporters, relative to 76% black survey respondents. The age profile of ANC supporters closely resembles the age profile of voters, while DA supporters are slightly older overall and EFF supporters are significantly younger overall.

Africa Check and the Centre for the Study of Democracy have criticised polls by market research companies as unscientific. Africa Check warned that some polls are intentionally misleading and some are essentially conjecture.

Provincial ballot

The Ipsos Pulse of the People survey undertaken in October and November 2013 showed that a number of provinces would be closely contested. The ANC will continue to dominate in the Eastern Cape, Limpopo, North West, Mpumalanga, KwaZulu-Natal and Free State. The DA will keep the Western Cape while control of the Northern Cape and Gauteng will be contested between the ANC and DA, with other parties holding the balance of power, so coalitions may be decisive. In Limpopo and North West the EFF could become the official opposition.

The Ipsos/Sunday Times survey undertaken in February and March 2014 showed that the ANC enjoyed majority support in all provinces except the Western Cape, where the DA retains majority support. DA support followed that of the ANC in all other provinces except for the North West, where the EFF came in second place.



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