South Africans will head to the polls on 8 May to vote in the national and provincial elections

South Africans will head to the polls next week to vote during the national and provincial elections, all amid a context of increased political uncertainty for the ruling African National Congress (ANC), heightened violence across the country and subdued economic growth.

There is little doubt that the ANC is gearing up for its most challenging post-apartheid election yet. Recent polls have been contradictory. Most predict a comfortable win for the still-dominant ANC, but some – including this poll from the South African Institute of Race Relations – suggest they could see their support drop to just shy of 51%. Such a drop would be disastrous for the ruling party, who have struggled to recover from the damage brought about by former president Jacob Zuma.

While we predict a decrease in ANC support potentially to below 60% — for the first time — we also believe that the ANC will maintain their dominance at the national level.

The picture is less certain at the provincial level. Businesses should be prepared for the possibility of coalition governments in economic hubs such as the northern province of Gauteng, especially following the respectable record of the current moderate opposition Democratic Alliance-led coalitions in both Johannesburg and Tshwane. Equally important will be the performance of the Economic Freedom Fighters, which hopes to break the 10% mark for the first time. This would make it only the third party to win more than 10% of national vote since the end of apartheid, and would likely intensify the party’s attitude of behaving like the main opposition – significantly changing the landscape of South African politics going forward.

This election snapshot was written by Menas Associates’ South Africa expert, Sarah Lockwood. If you are interested in receiving more analysis on the elections or on the South African political economy, contact us at info@menas.co.uk

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