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MAY 2014

The African National Congress has, as expected, won a clear victory in South Africa’s general election. In the first poll to be held since the death of Nelson Mandela last December, the ANC, led by the South African President, Jacob Zuma (right), won 62.1% of the vote. The second-placed Democratic Alliance won 22.7% of the vote, increasing its share by nearly a third compared to the previous election. As well as triumphing in the elections to South Africa’s National Assembly, the ANC also won the provincial elections in eight out of nine provinces. Analysis by Harald Pakendorf, South African political consultant

Photo: Wikimedia Commons - Copyright World Economic Forum / Eric Miller

The increasing economic focus on Africa will not have escaped any business leader. In many cases choosing to enter into or expand in Africa from a business perspective is an increasingly ‘if’ not ‘when’ discussion for the many companies I meet.

Over more than 20 years, BursonMarsteller has developed a powerful network of affiliate partners across the continent called Burson-Marsteller Africa.

With the eyes of the world focussed on last week’s South African election, my team based here in Johannesburg wanted to provide a considered economic and developmental reflection.

Our African footprint, which covers 53 of the 55 African countries is unmatched. It is a truly indigenous African communications network which combines the advantages of local agency insight, connectivity and implementation with seamless coordination, reporting and strategy direction.

We have drawn on the insights of a long-time colleague and South African political consultant, Harald Pakendorf.

Robyn de Villiers Chairman and CEO, Burson-Marsteller Africa

Burson-Marsteller EMEA Square de Meeûs 37, 1000 Brussels, Belgium  +32 (0)2 743 6611 

years since first postapartheid elections

Seldom does a political scene change dramatically. Rather, it shifts over time. If the shifts are consistently in the same direction they’re worth watching closely. That is the main message from the 2014 South African national and provincial election. Briefly: the African National Congress (ANC) is on a slow decline, the combined opposition is rising, the ANC continues to lose support faster at provincial than at the national level while the main metropolitan centres may see ANC support fall below 50% at the 2016 municipal elections. Looking for coalition partners to maintain or take power is beginning to become the next focus. We have to get rid of some illusions. This is not a race between two big parties which in the long run will

alternate in the seat of power. Rather it will be shifting set of coalitions – quite likely with different coalition partners at different levels of government. Thus, the left-wing ANC may need the more radical left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to hold on to power in Gauteng province, the economic heart of the country, in the future. But the centrist Democratic Alliance (DA) may also be able to cobble together a coalition with a number of smaller parties. The results underline the big shifts – the ANC down from 70% in 2004 to 62% in 2014, the DA climbing from 12% in 2004 to 22% this year, the third parties falling away and a new one appearing - the centre-left Congress of the People (COPE) replaced the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) last time around, and this year it is the turn of the EFF. Note, by the way, the DA is the most non-racial party and the second biggest black one. The holy grail of South Africa is the constitution. Its major part can only be changed with a two-thirds majority – which the ANC and EFF together can muster. For EFF policies to be implemented, drastic changes will be necessary. Such a coalition is theoretically possible but has three things that count against it. First, the deep loathing in the ANC against EFF leader Julius Malema, a former president of the ANC Youth League, was expelled from the party in 2012. Second, the ANC has had a two-thirds majority before and did not change the constitution. Third, the fact that the ANC was a strong driver in writing the constitution in the Nineties.

African National Congress (ANC)

249 (-15)

African Independent Congress

3 (+3)

Democratic Alliance (DA)

89 (+18)

Agang SA

2 (+2)

Economic Freedom Fighters

25 (+25)

Pan Africanist Congress

1 (no change)

Inkatha Freedom Party

10 (-8)

African People’s Convention

1 (no change)

National Freedom Party

6 (+6)

Al Jama-ah

0 (no change)

United Democratic Movement

4 (no change)

Minority Front

0 (-1)

Freedom Front Plus

4 (no change)

United Christian Democratic Party

0 (-2)

Congress of the People

3 (-27)

Azanian People’s Organisation

0 (-1)

African Christian Democratic Party

3 (no change)

interpretation of the document possible and Zuma has to balance competing strands of economic approaches under one roof. Also, does the party go clearly and unequivocally for the NDP part which allows more space for the private sector knowing that the political space on its left is being closed down.

economic growth to address poverty, inequality and unemployment – and it increasingly accepts it needs the private sector and has to make life easier for it rather than more difficult. of South Africans voted in the elections

Fact is, the ANC may find itself in a position now where movement to the left has been pre-empted and it may just return more clearly to the more free market approach it espoused in the Nineties. It does realise it needs

But, then, the word ‘never’ does not exist in politics.

Democratic Alliance leader Helen Zille Photo: CC/Flickr Democratic Alliance

One has to look beyond the rhetoric. There is a real battle of words going on between EFF and ANC and it will attract a great deal of media attention. But none of these radical promises (redistributing land, interfering with ownership rights, expanding state holdings in mineral and energy fields, and more) can pass muster in the Constitutional Court as the constitution simply does not allow it. In any case, the National Development Plan (NDP) is official ANC policy and was reaffirmed by president Zuma a day after the election. Yet there is more than one

For more information please contact: Karen Massin Chair, EMEA Public Affairs Practice

Robyn de Villiers Chairman and CEO, Burson-Marsteller Africa

There will be many and loud noises about ridding the country of corruption and nepotism. But these may have become so systemic that it will take harsh and consistent action and not just expressions of a desire for change. In short, look beyond the rhetoric: the ANC, over time, gradually losing support to the left and right, possibly sharing power in a coalition to stay in power, sounding left but fiddling in the middle. But: no revolution in economic or political terms. South Africa is really quite a surprisingly conservative country. To read the full version of this blog from 12 May ‘ANC faces an unhappy future’, go to Harald Pakendorf, long-time political consultant, has a degree in politics and history, was a Nieman Fellow at Harvard, and has been a political journalist all his life. He has edited three different newspapers, was a columnist and TV presenter, has contributed to several books, and features regularly as an analyst for local and international media. He was dismissed from his editorial chair in the 1980s for pushing too hard for equal rights for all South Africans. He has recently been honoured for his contribution in the struggle for media freedom.

David O’Leary Director, Government Relations, Brussels

Burson-Marsteller South African Elections Insight 2014