THE race between the ANC and the DA in the Johannesburg and Tshwane metros on Thursday, turned into the election thriller that was widely predicted in the run-up to the poll as an earlier comfortable lead for the official opposition narrowed to put the parties neck-and-neck.
Around 4pm, the Democratic Alliance was only half a percentage point ahead of the ruling party in the capital. In the morning, the DA had woken up to a lead of about 6.5 percent in Tshwane. Some two hours the later, the ANC overtook the DA to lead by 42.8 percent to 42.7 percent.
Johannesburg also seemed headed for a nail-bitingly close finish. By tea time, the DA was narrowly ahead with 42.7 percent to the African Natinal Congress’s 41.38 percent. By 6pm, the DA was only just still in the lead with 42.09 percent compared to the ANC’s 42.02 percent.
In a symbolic blow for the ANC, the DA appeared well on its way to winning an outright majority of more than 60 percent in Kliptown, the storied suburb of Soweto where the Freedom Charter was adopted in 1955.
The DA had 62 percent of votes compared to the ANC’s 26.7 as counting neared its end here.
In Tshwane, the DA, which relies foremost on its own election survey data, believed that it could still emerge as the biggest party.
“It is nail-bitingly close, but we can still win control, whether alone or in coalition,” said James Selfe, the chairman of the DA’s federal executive.
He was confident the DA could still win convincingly in Nelson Mandela Bay where early results had indicated an outright majority that by afternoon’s end seemed just out of grasp as the party was sitting at 49.5 percent, 10 percent ahead of the ANC.
It was fairly usual for the DA to watch an initial strong lead on counting day shrink as results from poorer areas further afield, not the party’s usual support base, began reaching provincial result centres.
In line with this, Selfe said the party’s national tally of 27.6 percent around 5pm could decline slightly on the final count, “but not by very much”.
The DA’s inroads in major metros held by the ANC, and its easy retention of Cape Town, suggested a scenario of the ANC running the country and the DA its big cities, which Selfe described as a slow steady route to power.
“Whoever runs the cities will eventually run the country, because the cities are the economic centres, the cities are where jobs are created.” – ANA