It’s lunchtime the day after the South African elections and, although the counting will continue into tonight, all indications are that the ANC will take about 65 per cent of parliamentary seats.
This means it will not quite attain the two thirds parliamentary majority it needs to alter the constitution. However, the votes yet to be counted are those from areas which could heavily favour the ANC.
The DA (Democratic Alliance) will be the official opposition with about 18 per cent and COPE (Congress of the People) will peak at about 8 or 9 per cent. The two biggest opposition parties will therefore reach the 27 per cent I predicted in my earlier blog post. But it seems I underestimated the residual support of the smaller parties. Some received enough votes to survive in parliament and did not melt down as expected.
COPE, however, will be the official opposition in a small number of state legislatures, and the DA has taken Western Cape. It will seek to establish a model for the rest of South Africa—a little unfairly, given the prosperity in this area.
I have stayed in six locations on this trip. Not KwaZuluNatal, where so many went to see the demise of the Inkhata Freedom Party. It lost a lot, but did not die. Even so, it is now a party of the past. I went to those areas where the DA and COPE hoped to do well. They are the parties of the future, alongside the still very strong ANC.
As I mentioned in a previous post, I went to Kliptown—where it all started in 1955 with the original Congress of the People. Today’s COPE has appropriated the support for this brave movement. I have been looking at the photos from that earlier time. The tallest people are Mandela and Trevor Huddlestone, the battling priest who came to the side of justice. In the photo of the massed signatories there are men and women, black, coloured, Indian and other Asians. I was the only person in the dedicated museum, and it was like walking among ghosts. So much bravery. So many hopes. To where will it now lead? To where will Jacob Zuma take this diverse nation with its very vexed and very brave history?