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Wednesday, 29 May 2024 08:50

D-Day is finally here: Voters queue to make their mark.

By Lehlohonolo Lehana.

South Africans have already started to line up to cast their ballots in South Africa's 7th general elections.

IEC said its all systems go for voters to choose leaders for the seventh administration.

Polls open at 7:00 am (0500 GMT) and close at 9:00 pm, with 27 million registered voters called to elect a new parliament, which then chooses a president.

For the first time since the advent of democracy in 1994, the African National Congress (ANC) is at risk of losing its outright majority and could be forced to negotiate a coalition.

Under the leadership of the late Nelson Mandela, the ANC won freedom for black South Africans after decades of apartheid.

It then helped build a strong democracy and lifted millions out of poverty by creating a broad social welfare system.

President Cyril Ramaphosa, who is seeking a second term, defended his record in a speech to the nation on Sunday, citing progress in fighting graft and fixing gaps in electricity production among other successes.

"We have placed South Africa on a new trajectory of recovery and laid a strong foundation for future growth," the 71-year-old said.

"We cannot afford to turn back. There is more work to be done."

He has also promised to usher in universal credit and push ahead with plans to provide health coverage.

But polls suggest the ANC could win as little as 42.2 percent of the vote, down from 57 percent in 2019.

The latest data from the SRF tracking poll is for 27 May, Monday.

The DA at 21.6%, MK party at 12.4%, the EFF at 10.8% and the IFP at 3.2%, with other parties making up 9.8%.

In the 2019 elections, the ANC got 57.5%, the DA 22.77%, the EFF 10.8% and the IFP 3.38%. The MK Party was of course not on the ballot, as it only registered as a party last year and will be contesting its first elections.

The ANC's support peaked on the SRF poll on 15 May, with 45.9% at 66% turnout, and was in decline until 24 May, when it reached 41.7%. In the days, since it has seen a slow rise to 42.2%.

Incidentally, the DA's support started to show a dip on 24 May. From 14 May until 24 May, the DA saw a small but continuing increase, growing from 21.8% to 24.4% on 23 May, and holding that figure the next day. However, by 26 May, its support had dropped to 22.6%. Then by 27 May, it dropped a whole percentage point to 21.6%.

The MK Party's support has been the most volatile.

At 66% turnout, it reached its highest level of support on 17 April, with 13.7%. It then showed a steady decline to 10.8% on 29 April. By 7 May, it recovered to 13%, then saw a decline to 10.7% on 17 May, and recovered to 13.2% on 23 May. Despite a dip the next day, on 26 May it reached 13.2% again.

The EFF has been holding steady around the 10% mark, with a high point of 11.2% on 15 April, and a low point of 7.6% on 10 May.

The SRF emphasises that the tracking tool does not constitute a prediction or forecast of the outcome of the election, but provides a snapshot in real time of voter sentiment. Its margin of error is 2%.

The SRF further noted that there is an unprecedented amount of voter uncertainty about which party to support.

"Between the volatility of voter decision making and margin of error, report users should be circumspect about making precise political predictions about the result of the May 29 election," stated the SRF.