2019 South African general election

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South African general election, 2019

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All 400 seats to the National Assembly of South Africa
201 seats needed for a majority
  Cyril Ramaphosa (29653248377) (cropped).jpg DA Leader Mmusi Maimane.png
Leader Cyril Ramaphosa Mmusi Maimane
Party African National Congress Democratic Alliance
Leader since 18 December 2017 10 May 2015
Last election 62.15% 22.23%
Current seats 249 89
Seats needed Steady0 Increase112

  Julius Malema 2011-09-14 cropped.jpg Mangosuthu Buthelezi (1983).jpg
Leader Julius Malema Mangosuthu Buthelezi
Party Economic Freedom Fighters Inkatha Freedom Party
Leader since 26 July 2013 21 March 1975
Last election 6.35% 2.40%
Current seats 25 10
Seats needed Increase 176 Increase 191

Incumbent President

Cyril Ramaphosa
African National Congress

General elections will be held in South Africa on the 8th of May 2019 to elect a new National Assembly and new provincial legislatures in each province. This will be the sixth election held since the end of the apartheid system in 1994. This election will determine who will become the next President of South Africa.

Incumbent President Cyril Ramaphosa, the 12th head of State in South Africa, will lead the ruling African National Congress in the election, attempting to retain majority status and a full term in office as president; his predecessor, Jacob Zuma, resigned from office on 14 February 2018 and was already ineligible for a third term in office as the South African Constitution limits a president to serve a maximum of two five-year terms.

Electoral system[edit]

South Africa has a parliamentary system of government; the National Assembly consists of 400 members elected by proportional representation with a closed list approach. Two hundred members are elected from national party lists; the other 200 are elected from provincial party lists in each of the nine provinces.[1] The President of South Africa is elected by the National Assembly after the election.[2]

The provincial legislatures, which vary in size from 30 to 80 members, are also elected by proportional representation with closed lists. The premiers of each province will be elected by the respective provincial legislatures.[1]

The National Council of Provinces (NCOP) consists of 90 members, ten elected by each provincial legislature. The NCOP members will be elected by the provincial legislatures in proportion to the party makeup of the legislatures.[1]

Date of election[edit]

The term of the National Assembly is 5 years. The last general election was held on 7 May 2014,[3] and the term of the National Assembly therefore ends on 6 May 2019, but the National Assembly remains competent to function from the time it is dissolved or its term expires, until the day before the first day of polling for the next National Assembly.

When the National Assembly's term expires (or if it is dissolved[4]), the President must call and set dates for an election, which must be held within 90 days of the date the National Assembly was dissolved or its term expired.[5] Therefore if the National Assembly is not dissolved before 6 May 2019, the election must be held by 4 August 2019. A proclamation calling and setting dates for an election may be issued before or after the expiry of the term of the National Assembly.[5]

On 7 February 2019, while President Cyril Ramaphosa was delivering the 2019 State of the Nation Address before Parliament, he announced that the 2019 national and provincial elections will be held on Wednesday, 8 May 2019.[6]

Voter registration[edit]

Local voters[edit]

On the weekends of 10-11 March 2018[7] and 26-27 January 2019[8] all voting stations were opened for new voters to register and for those who moved residence to re-register in their new voting district. All South African political parties launched voter registration campaigns. Politicians especially urged the youth to register to vote.[9] Following the January 2019 registration, the Commission announced that over 700 000 new voters had registered over the January registration weekend. This brings the combined total of new voters to over 1.1 million, which brings the total number of voters on the voter roll to 26 727 921.[10]

International voters[edit]

Voter registrations for all South Africans living abroad took place from 1 to 4 February 2019. The registration took place during the office hours at all of South Africa’s 120 foreign missions.[11]

Contesting political parties[edit]

African National Congress[edit]

The governing African National Congress (ANC) have held a majority of the seats in the National Assembly since 1994, being re-elected with increasing majorities in 1999 and 2004, and with a slight fall in its majority in 2009 and 2014. The ANC is led by Cyril Ramaphosa, who was elected to a five-year term as President of the African National Congress, beating his rival, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma by a narrow margin. David Mabuza was elected as Deputy President of the ANC, succeeding Ramaphosa who had run for the position of ANC president.[12][13][14]

National Assembly Speaker Baleka Mbete, former Mpumalanga Premier Mathews Phosa, ANC Treasurer General Zweli Mkhize, and Human Settlements Ministers Lindiwe Sisulu, were all candidates for the position of ANC president, but later all withdrew.[15]

On 14 February 2018, Zuma resigned as President of South Africa, leading Ramaphosa, as Deputy President, to succeed him as acting president and serve out the remainder of Zuma's term. Ramaphosa was elected president on 15 February 2018. Ramaphosa will thus run for a full term in office as president.

The party lost many municipalities and support in the 2016 municipal elections, including the mayoralty and majority in councils such as, Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane and Johannesburg. The party had to form coalitions to retain control of the City of Ekurhuleni and many other municipalities. They have gained back control in many municipalities through votes of no confidences. Although the party ousted the Democratic Alliance mayor, Athol Trollip, in Nelson Mandela Bay, the current mayor of the municipality is from the United Democratic Movement.[16]

When David Mabuza resigned as Premier of Mpumalanga to become Deputy President of South Africa, MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs, Refilwe Mtsweni was appointed to fill his position. She was officially inaugurated on 20 March 2018. Free State Premier, Ace Magashule, was elected Secretary-General of the ANC at its 54th Elective Conference in December 2018. He stepped down in March 2018 and was succeeded by MEC for Human Settlements, Sisi Ntombela.[17][18]

In April 2018, violent protests started in the North West calling for Supra Mahumapelo's resignation. He resigned in May 2018 and professor Job Mokgoro was designated by the ANC to succeed him.[19]

The party launched its manifesto on 12 January 2019, alongside its 107th birthday celebrations at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.[20]

Democratic Alliance[edit]

The official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) was led by Helen Zille. She announced on 12 April 2015, that she was not running for re-election. Leader of the Opposition, Mmusi Maimane, and Federal Chairperson, Wilmot James, were seen as prominent front-runners.

At the party's 2015 Federal Congress in Port Elizabeth, Maimane was elected leader of the DA, succeeding outgoing leader Helen Zille. He defeated Wilmot James, winning close to 90% of the vote. He was backed by prominent businessman and future Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba. He became the first black South African to lead the DA, as well as its youngest leader to date.[21][22][23]

In the 2016 municipal elections, the party contested the municipal elections for the first time under the leadership of Mmusi Maimane. the party gained significant support and control of municipalities all across South Africa, while assuming control of most Western Cape councils. In addition, the party gained three metropolitan municipalities from the ANC – Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay. The party did increase its majority in Cape Town. They lost control of the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality in August 2018, after a vote of no confidence ousted the DA administration.

The DA held its Federal Congress on 7–8 April 2018 in Pretoria.[24] Mmusi Maimane was unopposed as leader for another term.[25]

The party has also had its fair share of controversies. In October 2015, DA Shadow Minister Dianne Kohler Barnard made a controversial statement praising apartheid President PW Botha. She faced internal DA disciplinary action, she later apologised and was removed as Shadow Minister. She returned as Shadow Deputy Minister of Police in September 2017. Helen Zille sent out controversial tweets in March 2017, arguing that some elements of South Africa's colonial legacy made a positive contribution to the country. Zille subsequently apologised in light of the outrage generated and remained as Western Cape Premier.[26][27]

After months of infighting and legal challenges, Mayor of Cape Town, Patricia de Lille, announced at a press briefing with Mmusi Maimane that she would resign as Mayor of Cape Town, effective 31 October 2018. Candidates for her position included DA Leader Mmusi Maimane, former Cape Town Mayor Dan Plato, Gauteng Provincial Legislature Member Heinrich Volmink, Deputy Mayor of Cape Town Ian Neilson, and Western Cape Provincial Parliament Speaker Sharna Fernandez. Dan Plato was subsequently selected. Patricia de Lille has since formed a new political party in December 2018 namely Good.

On 24 September 2018, the party launched its "One South Africa for All" campaign at the Mary Fitzgerald Square in Johannesburg.[28]

The party's candidates for the position of premier of the different provinces are as follows:[29]

In January 2019, the Democratic Alliance erected a controversial billboard with the words "The ANC is killing us" in the Johannesburg CBD. The billboard aimed to honour of all the South Africans who have lost their lives, because of crime, the Life Healthcare Esidimeni Scandal, Marikana killings and children who have fallen into pit toilets. The billboard was subsequently destroyed by African National Congress supporters.[38]

In mid-January 2019, Tshwane mayor Solly Msimanga announced his intention to resign as mayor in order to focus on his Gauteng premiership campaign.[39] The party nominated Stevens Mokgalapa to succeed him. He was elected on 12 February 2019.

Economic Freedom Fighters[edit]

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is a splinter party of the ANC that was formed in July 2013 by expelled ANC Youth League leader, Julius Malema, taking a strong anti-ANC position within its far-left economic platform, such as calling for the expropriation of land without compensation and the nationalisation of South Africa's mines and the South African Reserve Bank.[40]

The party contested its first general elections in 2014 and garnered support across South Africa, giving it a total of 25 seats in the National Assembly.[41]

In the 2016 municipal elections, the party's support further increased, growing from 6% to 8% in the national popular vote. The party voted with the DA and many smaller opposition parties to install DA-led local governments and oust ANC-led administrations.[42]

On 2 February 2019, the party launched its manifesto in Soshanguve.[43]

Other parties[edit]

  • The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) is led by Mangosuthu Buthelezi. The party's support has decreased since 2004 due to internal party disputes. The party gained municipalities and support in its stronghold of KwaZulu-Natal in the 2016 municipal elections. This election will be Buthelezi's last election as party president, as he announced on 20 January 2019, that he will not seek reelection to another term.[44][45]
  • The National Freedom Party (NFP) was formed in 2011 by disgruntled IFP members. The party made gains on the IFP in 2014, but lost support in 2016.[46]
  • The United Democratic Movement (UDM) led by Bantu Holomisa. The party's support has been greatly diminished since the 1999 election. In August 2018, the DA Mayor, Athol Trollip, was ousted from office in Nelson Mandela Bay via a vote of no confidence. The African National Congress voted with the UDM and smaller parties to install Mongameli Bobani as the first Mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay from the UDM.[47] The party launched its manifesto on 16 February 2019.[48]
  • The Freedom Front Plus (FF+; Afrikaans: Vryheidsfront Plus, VF+) is a conservative, separatist party formed in 1994, led by Pieter Groenewald. Since 1994 the party's support has declined, but has maintained a small presence in parliament by securing no more than four seats in the National Assembly since the 2004 general election. According to the party's manifesto: "The Freedom Front Plus is irrevocably committed to the realisation of communities', in particular the Afrikaner's, internationally recognised right to self-determination, territorial or otherwise; the maintenance, protection and promotion of their rights and interests, as well as the promotion of the right of self-determination of any other community, bound by a common language and cultural heritage in South Africa." [49]
  • The Congress of the People (COPE), a splinter party of the ANC, is led by former ANC Free State Premier and Minister of Defence, Mosiuoa Lekota. The party's support was greatly diminished in 2014, resulting in the party losing all but four of its seats in parliament and in the nine provincial legislatures. The party formed multiple coalition governments with the Democratic Alliance in the aftermath of the 2016 municipal elections. According the party's manifesto: "Our vision for South Africa is for a democratic, inclusive and a prosperous country that promotes racial harmony, social cohesion, solidarity, unity in diversity, freedom and gender equality. COPE envisages a caring society where a shared national identity and pride are deeply rooted amongst South Africans." [50]
  • The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) is led by Kenneth Meshoe. The party's support has been decreasing since the 2009 general election. After the 2014 general, the party became the ninth-largest party in the National Assembly after it won three seats. The party did manage to retain its sole seat in the Western Cape Provincial Parliament. The party's support decreased further in the 2016 municipal elections. The party launched its manifesto on 16 February 2019.[51]
  • The African Independent Congress (AIC), which support comes mainly from the Eastern Cape. The party is led by Mandla Galo. In the 2016 municipal elections, the party won a total of fifty five council seats across South Africa.[52]
  • Front National (South Africa) is a party formed in late 2013. The party promotes Secession and Afrikaner self-determination. Front National strikes no distinction between English-speaking Whites and Afrikaners in South Africa.

New parties[edit]

  • Black First Land First (BLF) is a controversial far-left black nationalist political party. The party is headed by its founder and expelled Economic Freedom Fighters member, Andile Mngxitama. Mngxitama was expelled from the Economic Freedom Fighters in April 2015, and subsequently lost his National Assembly membership. He founded the party in October 2015, along with other disgruntled EFF members. The party's leaders and its members have been criticized and condemned for making racially insensitive comments that calls for the killing of white South Africans.[54]
  • Disgruntled former African National Congress Member of Parliament, Makhosi Khoza, founded the political party African Democratic Change (ADC) in December 2017. She announced in April 2018 that she was retiring from politics. Khoza subsequently joined the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) as Executive Director of the Local Government Strategy division.[55][56][57]
  • Patricia de Lille, former Mayor of Cape Town and former DA member, formed the political party Good in December 2018. The party is registered with the Electoral Commission of South Africa and is set to contest the 2019 elections, both nationally and provincially.[58][59] The party launched its manifesto on 5 February 2019.
  • On 13 December 2018, former SABC Chief Operating Officer Hlaudi Motsoeneng joined the country's political landscape and launched a new political group named African Content Movement that is set to contest 2019 General Elections.
  • African Transformation Movement (ATM) is a political party that was formed in October 2018. It is led by Vuyolwethu Zungula. Former Eastern Cape Democratic Alliance Provincial Chairperson Veliswa Mvenya is the Eastern Cape Provincial Chairperson of the party. The party is planning, if elected to power, to bring back the death penalty and scrap low pass marks in public schools.[60][61]

Opinion polling[edit]

Polling Organisation Fieldwork Date Sample Size ANC DA EFF IFP FF+ ACDP Others Don't Know[a] Lead
Ipsos 23 Oct 2018—4 Dec 2018 3,571 61 14 9 2 1 N/A 1 11 47
IRR 26 Nov—4 Dec 2018 1,017 56 18 11 3 1 2 3 6 38
Afrobarometer Aug—Sep 2018 1,800 48 11 11 1 N/A N/A 2 28 37
IRR 22 Aug—4 Sep 2018 978 52 23 13 3 1 2 2 2 29
Ipsos 20 Apr—7 Jun 2018 3,738 60 13 7 1 N/A N/A 1 18 47
Ipsos May 2017 3,471 47 21 5 N/A N/A N/A 3 24 26
2014 General Election Results 7 May 2014 N/A 62.2 22.2 6.4 2.4 0.9 0.6 5.3 N/A 40


  1. ^ Includes Abstention and No answer responses


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