|23. April 2009
DA says Western Cape is theirs
Pretoria (South Africa) - Democratic Alliance (DA) leader Helen Zille arrived at the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) results centre in Pretoria on Thursday morning looking bright in a sweet, pink jacket with a big, lipglossed smile.
She joked and celebrated with friends and party members. Until she looked up at the IEC scoreboard. Her smile faded as she saw the latest national results.
Zille told the Mail & Guardian Online that the DA is "not very happy" about the results as the party had hoped to do better. "We were hoping for 15% in this year's election, which would be a 30% increase from the last election," she said.
Now the party's internal polls show it should anticipate a drop in its standings in the national election. "I think we'll come down slightly as more results from the different areas come in, but it will still be higher than the projections."
Zille blamed South Africans who didn't vote: "It takes a few apathetic voters for the votes to fail."
But not one to go down without a fight, Zille was confident that the party would rule in the Western Cape. "We ran a very targeted campaign and the voters are saying they understand democracy."
Even African National Congress (ANC) secretary general Gwede Mantashe noticed Zille's disappointment. With a big hug he tried to cheer her up, offering a deal: "Let's rule the Western Cape together."
She answered with a smile: "Thanks but no thanks."
A confident Ryan Coetzee, elections boss for the DA, claimed on Thursday morning that the ANC is "broken" in the Western Cape.
According the most recent results, the DA won 54,5% of the provincial vote with 18% of the votes having been counted. At the same time the ANC received 26,4% of the provincial vote in the Western Cape.
Coetzee is confident that their turn to rule the province has come. "This election means that the ANC is never again going to win the Western Cape," he said. He feels that the DA's chances of winning an outright majority in the Western Cape are "pretty good".
"In 2004, we won 27% in the Western Cape, so we've almost doubled," said Coetzee. "It's partly to do with how we've governed there and the deep dissatisfaction with the ANC."
He further attributes the increased votes to a massive shift among coloured voters. "We've gone out of our way to show that here is a party that cares about all South Africans," he said. "We are not coloured-driven like the ID [Independent Democrats]."
Coetzee claims they showed coloured people that the DA is aware of and understood their issues. Their growth among black voters and a "very enthusiastic" turnout of white voters have also pushed up their numbers.
However, the DA doesn't regard the official figures as reliable. "The number doesn't come in as a perfect sample," said DA executive director Greg Krumbock. Instead, the party uses software designed by their inhouse software engineers to project the percentage they have won.
It enables the party to make a projection of the final vote by taking into account the representative nature of each district already counted. This means that they don't need to wait for key districts in order to realistically assess their status in the polls.
Krumbock feels that this system is very reliable. "In 1999 we used the system for the first time and we were only 32 000 votes out," he said.
"We don't really look at that board," said Coetzee, referring to the results board looming large over the small table where he is sitting. "Projecting out from the districts we've won so far, we've got 50% of the Western Cape."