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Of the just over one million eligible voters in the Vhembe District, 664,067 (65%) registered to vote. Determining how many of these registered voters will turn up at the polling booths is an educated guess. During the 2019 general elections, 356,100 (57%) people made their crosses on the ballot papers. In the 2021 local-government elections (LGE), only 43.2%, or 266,030 citizens, exercised their democratic right to select leaders.

Which way will the election cookie crumble on 29 May?

Date: 25 May 2024 By: Anton van Zyl

The national elections on 29 May are an important event as they may introduce a whole new political landscape to the country. For the first time since 1994, the promise of diversity, with more choices for voters, is a reality.

Of the just over one million eligible voters in the Vhembe District, 664,067 (65%) registered to vote. Determining how many of these registered voters will turn up at the polling booths is an educated guess. During the 2019 general elections, 356,100 (57%) people made their crosses on the ballot papers. In the 2021 local-government elections (LGE), only 43.2%, or 266,030 citizens, exercised their democratic right to select leaders.

In Vhembe, the African National Congress (ANC) has thus far dominated proceedings. In 2019, the ANC collected 88.32% of the votes, with their closest rivals being the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) with 5.54% of the votes and the Democratic Alliance (DA) scoring 3.41%.

The situation started to change in 2021, with support for the ANC dropping to 77.81%. The EFF gained slightly more support, securing 6.26% of the votes, and the DA received 3.92%. Independent candidates garnered 6.85% of the support.

Expectations are that voter turnout nationally, and also in Vhembe, will be reasonably high this year. The number of voting districts has increased from 706 in 2019 to 724.

The largest portion of the voting population is in Thulamela District, where 245,895 (68.20% of eligible voters) have registered. This is also the district where the ANC is in danger of losing the most support, based on estimates. In 2019, the party was supported by 91.22% of the voters. In 2021, the party attracted 46,482 fewer votes, but still ended with 83.06% of the support.

In Thulamela, the EFF collected 6,346 votes in the 2019 elections - some 4.69% of the votes. The party could only collect 4,115 votes in 2021, or 4.44% of the votes. The 2021 elections saw independent candidates stepping to the fore, collecting 5.73% of the votes. The DA gained some support, increasing from 2.04% in 2019 to 2.53% in 2021.

Thulamela’s high registration percentage (68.20%) is telling and indicates that the various political parties have identified it as a key area where they believe they can gain more seats in parliament.

The battle to dominate in Makhado is expected to be fierce. Of the 317,323 eligible voters, only 60.99% opted to register, but the 193,534 potential votes are very attractive. During the 2019 elections, 58.46% of the voters turned up, and 87.32% voted for the ANC. Two years later, during the 2021 LGE, voter turnout dropped to 42.26%, and so did support for the ANC, which fell to 78.18%.

Makhado will probably be an area where the DA focuses much of its attention. In 2019, the party received 4.78% of the votes, increasing to 6.95% in 2021. The EFF also saw a rise in support, going from 4.87% in 2019 to 5.47% in 2021.

Voter registration in the Collins Chabane District is surprisingly high, sitting at 68.04%, with 175,113 people ready to visit the ballot stations. In 2019, only 52% of the registered voters bothered to vote, but in 2021, the number was 46.74% - higher than most of the other regions.

The ANC enjoyed 86.87% of the support in 2019, but it dropped to 73.23% in 2021. The biggest winners in 2021 were the EFF (up to 8.84% from 7.45%) and independent candidates (8.72%). The DA is less visible in this district, only garnering 1.58% of the support in 2021.

A determining factor in Collins Chabane might be protest action. In a region notorious for disruptive protests, various communities have threatened boycotts, highlighting widespread discontent with service delivery.

The region with the highest voting percentage in 2021 in Vhembe was Musina, which is also by far the smallest of the regions, with only 49,525 registered voters.

In 2019, the ANC dominated the elections with 82.65% of the votes. The party’s support fell to 70.01% in 2021, the lowest percentage in Vhembe.

As with most of the other districts, the ANC’s support was eroded by independent candidates, who took 11.56% of the votes in 2021. The EFF (7.85%) and the DA (7.34%) also made gains in 2021.

 

 
 
 

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Anton van Zyl

Anton van Zyl has been with the Zoutpansberger and Limpopo Mirror since 1990. He graduated from the Rand Afrikaans University (now University of Johannesburg) and obtained a BA Communications degree. He is a founder member of the Association of Independent Publishers.

 
 

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