11/12/2017 11:46 SAST | Updated 11/12/2017 13:56 SAST

The DA's Ambition To Take Control Of SA In 2019 Election Is Within Its Grasp

The best the ANC can hope for is to form a coalition government under Cyril Ramaphosa in 2019.

Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma (L) chats with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa (R).
Rajesh Jantilal/ AFP/ Getty Images
Dr Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma (L) chats with Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa (R).

Following the 2016 Local Government Elections (LGEs) wherein the ANC lost Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay (NMB) and Tshwane, the DA has revised its target to attain state power in 2019. Initially, it had set the target to 2029.

The DA's revised target is not farfetched. More so, given that the ANC has not only dwindled further to 54 percent, but that it has also lost the most populous Gauteng province, where its support stands at 46 percent. Gauteng holds sway on the state power, followed by KwaZulu-Natal, the Eastern Cape and Western Cape.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the ANC lost 7 percent between 2014 and 2016. While the ANC is very unlikely to reclaim the Western Cape from the DA, it would continue to govern six other provinces with drastically dwindled majorities.

Having lost the NMB to a DA-led coalition government, the ANC is also very likely to lose the Eastern Cape. Essentially, the LGEs are a sample of the general elections. In 2006, for example, the DA formed a coalition government with the now defunct Independent Democrats (ID) to govern Cape Town. In the next general elections, it won the Western Cape.

Regardless of who wins between Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma and Cyril Ramaphosa at the 54th ANC National Conference, which is set for another winner-takes-all outcome, the ANC will inevitably lose state power in 2019. The least a winner can do is to ensure that it does not lose by a big margin and mend its poor relationship with the smaller parties to bargain for the coalition government.

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Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa and Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

As seen in the neighbouring Lesotho, the U.K., and other parts of the world, the coalition government is increasingly becoming a global order and South Africa is not far off from this trend following the 2016 LGEs. The coalition government is a fragile affair that requires a principled leader who commands a great of respect from the opposition parties and the public at large to maintain a political certainty, which is important to lure foreign investors.

Generally, South Africans cannot bear another Zuma as the president, even if she is a woman.

The ANC's relationship with the smaller parties is at its lowest ebb under Jacob Zuma. It is, for this reason, that ACDP, Cope, the IFP, and the UDM formed the coalition governments with the DA in Johannesburg, NMB, and Tshwane, as well as a few municipalities across the country with the EFF's support. With these metropolitan municipalities under its co-governance, the DA is set to win the Eastern Cape and Gauteng in 2019.

As it stands, the DA is on a metropolitan par with the ANC. Both parties govern four metropolitan municipalities apiece. However, a metropolitan scale of power slightly tilts in favour of the DA, which governs the country's economic heavyweights: Cape Town, Johannesburg, and Tshwane.

The ANC, on the other hand, governs the economic lightweights: Bloemfontein, Buffalo City, Durban, and Ekurhuleni. It retained the latter and Rustenburg through the coalition governments, thanks to the African Independent Congress (AIC).

If Dlamini-Zuma wins, the status quo -- especially state capture under the pretext of Radical Economic Transformation (RET) -- would remain the same and the ANC would lose by a big margin. Generally, South Africans cannot bear another Zuma as the president, even if she is a woman.

Rogan Ward/ Reuters
Former African Union chairperson Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma.

Before Zuma could anoint her as his successor, her alleged association with tobacco smugglers Adriano Mazzotti and Mohammad Sayed, and her populist rhetoric on land, RET, and white monopoly capital, Dlamini-Zuma used to command a great deal of respect from South Africans at large. She has lost that respect.

Adding insult to injury, rogue elements -- most notably, former ANC national spokesperson Carl Niehaus who is a crook and a liar, and Social Development Minister Bathabile Dlamini -- run her presidential campaign. This would make it difficult for the ANC to secure the coalition government with her as the president.

He is just a better devil than Dlamini-Zuma; not a leader that the ANC and the country need post Zuma.

If Ramaphosa wins, the ANC would lose the state power by a small margin. Despite his hands dipped in the blood of 34 mineworkers in Marikana, South Africans at large can bear Ramaphosa as president.

In him, though, Cosatu and the SACP, as well as the media -- as they did with Zuma against Thabo Mbeki in the run-up to the 52nd ANC National Conference -- are offering them a raw deal. He is just a better devil than Dlamini-Zuma; not a leader that the ANC and the country need post-Zuma.

With Ramaphosa as the president, the ANC may secure the coalition government with the aforementioned parties, except the EFF. This, however, would depend on how he deals with the state capture and revives the economy in the run-up to the 2019 general elections.

Without the EFF's support, the ANC would certainly lose the state power. Cope and the UDM may not make it in Parliament in 2019. Even if they do, their impact would be infinitesimal.

Molifi Tshabalala is an independent political analyst.