Size of ANC's win could see opposition unite

Zuma's resounding win in the South African election could prompt the losing parties to join forces. Daniel Howden reports on what the new political landscape might look like.

In the aftermath of another resounding victory for the African National Congress (ANC) yesterday, the first outlines of what some experts believe will be a complete realignment of politics in South Africa were becoming visible.

As the final results trickled in and the extent of Jacob Zuma's victory became clear, his ruling party looked set for the two-thirds majority it had publicly targeted. However, it was the rash of smaller parties who were the clear losers, suggesting for the first time that opposition to Africa's grandest liberation movement is set to consolidate. Smaller groups or regional powers such as the Independent Democrats (ID) and the Zulu Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), which had previously commanded influential support in some areas of the vast country, fared badly.

Despite the emergence of the Congress of the People (Cope), a breakaway party made up of ANC dissidents, the largest opposition bloc remains the white-led Democratic Alliance (DA). It nearly doubled its vote and won South Africa's richest province, the Western Cape, but its leader, Helen Zille, was among the first to predict a shake-up. "We have got to realign politics in South Africa and that's what I'm going to spend the next five years doing," she said.

With most of the votes counted, the DA was on course for 16 per cent of the total, with the Cope on less than 8 per cent. None of the 23 other national parties was expected to break the 2 per cent threshold.

The DA, trading heavily on Ms Zille's performance as mayor of Cape Town, has been successful in reaching out to white liberals and mixed-race voters, but has failed to make in-roads into the black vote. Observers are expecting an initial alliance and then, in the medium term, a possible merger between some elements of Cope and the DA. Both parties are roughly centrist groupings, to the right of the ANC. But recent political history means such designations are not altogether stable.

The Cope presidential candidate, Bishop Mvume Dandala, ruled out any return to the ANC fold but said his party would consider a coalition with other groups. "The DA faring a little better than expected and Cope doing a little worse has been good for the prospects of realignment," said Andrew Feinstein, a political commentator and former ANC MP. "The DA knows it has made no inroads into the African vote and had Cope performed better it would have no need to look for realignment."

He predicted that by 2014 the ANC could be challenged by a "non-racial opposition".

The ID leader Patricia De Lille, who played a prominent role in exposing a shady arms deal that has dogged the ANC, conceded that her party needed new partners and called for "like-minded" opposition parties to unite.

The ANC's bedrock of support among unions and the working class survived the nation's most hotly-contested election unscathed despite the criticism Mr Zuma faced. Dr Adrian Hadland, of the Human Sciences Research Council, said: "Without the unions and working class you are not going to shake the ANC."

However, after years of broken promises and slow progress on a post-apartheid dividend to the poor, Mr Zuma will be under pressure. South Africa has become the developing world's largest welfare spender, but there is a belief that the cash is not used efficiently.

Mr Zuma portrayed himself as a fresh start after his unpopular predecessor Thabo Mbeki, but his populist approach has raised expectations to a level where they will have to be met quickly. "He is unlikely to have the honeymoon period enjoyed by past ANC governments," said one analyst. "If he fails to deliver, the poor will also turn against him."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
A poster by Durham Constabulary
Arts and Entertainment
books New York Times slammed over summer reading list
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine