JAE Volume 14 Number 1 June 2015
Special Issue: South Africa's 2014 Elections

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Editor: Denis Kadima
Guest editors: Mcebisi Ndletyana and Mashupye H Maserumule
Managing Editor: Sue Randall

Contributors: Susan Booysen, Sithembile Mbete, Ivor Sarakinsky, Ebrahim Fakir, Mashupye H Maserumule, Ricky Munyaradzi Mukonza, Nyawo Gumede and Livhuwani L Ndou, Shauna Mottiar, Cherrel Africa, Sarah Chiumbu,
Antonio Ciaglia, Mcebisi Ndletyana

Key terms: South Africa, Election 2014, African National Congress, ANC, Duet, Dominance, Decline, Economic Freedom Fighters, Populism, History, Factionalism, New Party, COPE, Collapse, Mamphela Ramphele, AGANG, Democratic Alliance, Role, Opposition Parties, Reproducing, Toxic, Election Campaigns, Negative Campaigning, Race-Based, Western Cape, Public Servant, Censor, South African Broadcasting Corporation, Television Advertising, Independent Electoral Commission, IEC, Institutional Maturity

Introduction - The 2014 Elections: Game-changer or Continuation of Status Quo?

Mcebisi Ndletyana and Mashupye H Maserumule

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Mcebisi Ndletyana is Head of the Political Economy Faculty, Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA) and Senior Research Associate, Political Science Department, University of Johannesburg (UJ)
Mashupye H Maserumule is Associate Professor and Head of the Department of Public Management, Tshwane University of Technology (TUT)

OPENING PARAGRAPH: The results of South Africa's fifth democratic general election, held on 7 May 2014, perhaps more than those of any other, were awaited with much anticipation. They promised to reconfigure South Africa's political landscape. Not only were new political parties making their debut, the election seemed to be the toughest ever contested by the hitherto dominant, African National Congress (ANC). And this time around the spotlight was not only on the political parties, but also on the election management body, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC). In the midst of the election campaign the commission was gripped by a controversy that was not only a novelty in the 20-year-old democratic South Africa, it threatened to impair the credibility of the organisation.

Election 2014 and the ANC's Duet of Dominance and Decline

Susan Booysen

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Susan Booysen is Professor at the Wits School of Governance, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg

ABSTRACT: The African National Congress (ANC) result in South Africa's national and provincial elections of 2014 sings in two voices - ‘extraordinary repeat victory' and ‘monolith in gradual decline'. The fact that the party continued to dominate, with 62% of the national vote, was a significant achievement in this fifth set of national-provincial elections in democratic South Africa. In none of these elections has the ANC polled below 60%. Yet, from whatever angle its result is analysed, decline and decay are evident. The national result trend is one of serial decline over the last three elections. The opposition challenge came from both left and right and the ANC took losses on both flanks; turnout was down, as many of its supporters chose abstention over vote-switching; the ANC became more dependent on rural votes in an urbanising South Africa and results in the metropoles suggest further degeneration, unless the party invents turnarounds. A trend reversal remains possible, yet would be exceedingly difficult given the extraordinary campaign that was required to bring in the 62% in 2014.

The Economic Freedom Fighters: South Africa's Turn Towards Populism?

Sithembile Mbete

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Sithembile Mbete is a lecturer in the Department of Political Sciences at the University of Pretoria

ABSTRACT: The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party has made an impact on South African politics since it was launched in 2013. After the general election in 2014 the EFF became the third-largest party in the National Assembly and the official opposition in North West and Limpopo provinces. Some commentators have raised concerns that the EFF's success represents a turn towards a dangerous populism in South African politics. This article seeks to analyse the EFF as a populist party by arguing that it fits into a global pattern of populism in electoral politics. It uses the category of ‘political style', as developed by Benjamin Moffitt and Simon Tormey (2014), to discuss the brand of populism espoused by the EFF. The article argues that the performative elements of the EFF's politics - its uniform and rhetoric, as well as its engagement with national and provincial legislatures - have had the effect of sparking a debate about the relevance of the country's political institutions 20 years into democratic rule.

A Brief History of Factionalism and New Party Formation and Decline in South Africa: The Case of Cope

Ivor Sarakinsky and Ebrahim Fakir

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Ivor Sarakinsky is Senior Lecturer, Graduate School of Public and Development Management, University of the Witwatersrand.
Ebrahim Fakir is Manager, Political Parties and Parliamentary Programme; EISA

ABSTRACT: There is little analytical literature on the theory and empirical analysis of party factionalism that leads to splits and the formation of new political entities. The existing theoretical literature identifies factors and processes that are split-enabling. When coupled to the dynamics of organisational change, these conceptual tools provide a unique framework for analysing party-political dynamics in South Africa from an historically comparative perspective. This analysis identifies key trends in party splits in both ‘white' and ‘black' politics, which serves to illuminate more recent developments with regard to the realignment of opposition politics in South Africa. A conceptual framework combining organisational theory with the literature on party factionalism and party splits has facilitated our case-study focus on the formation, electoral performance and decline of the Congress of the People (Cope) as an opposition party in South Africa. We argue that Cope emerged from factional disputes within the ANC and has subsequently largely been shaped by the dynamics of its split and formation from the ANC, despite its attempt to break ties with the parent party. Existing analyses of Cope examine its performance in terms of policy, electoral and oppositional performance, while the approach this article adopts is to argue that the process of Cope's formation significantly shaped the conditions of its future internal dynamics and political performance.

The Impending Collapse of the House of Mamphela Ramphele: Agang SA

Mashupye H Maserumule, Ricky Munyaradzi Mukonza, Nyawo Gumede and Livhuwani L Ndou

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Ricky Munyaradzi Mukonza is a Lecturer in the Department of Public Management, Tshwane University of Technology, Polokwane Campus
Nyawo Gumede is Academic Manager in the Faculty of Humanities and Lecturer in the Department of Public Management, Tshwane University of Technology, Mbombela Campus
Livhuwani L Ndou is a Lecturer in the Departments of Public Management and Journalism, Tshwane University of Technology, Soshanguve Campus

ABSTRACT: In the 2014 general elections Agang SA won 52 350 votes (0.28% of the 18 654 771 votes cast) and only two seats in the National Assembly. The electoral performance of the newly-formed party was dismal, especially in comparison to that of its fellow debutant, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). This article explores the reasons for Agang SA's poor performance and concludes that they may include both the fact that its political message did not resonate with the wider population and the fact that its campaign strategy was ineffectual. However, it would seem that the main reason for the party's failure was that it was formed around the character and personal successes of one individual - its founder, Dr Mamphela Ramphele. Ramphele's reputation wittingly or unwittingly shaped the character and orientation of Agang SA, and her political indiscretions compromised its electoral potential. The future of Agang SA is bleak and its collapse almost inevitable.

The Democratic Alliance and the Role of Opposition Parties in South Africa

Shauna Mottiar

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Shauna Mottiar is Senior Lecturer, Development Studies, School of Built Environment and Development Studies, University of KwaZulu-Natal

ABSTRACT: In the 2014 election the Democratic Alliance (DA) strengthened its electoral support nationally as well as in the Western Cape province, where it governs. It gained over a million new national votes, increasing its total from 2 945 829 in 2009 to 4 091 548 in 2014. It also unseated the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) as official opposition in KwaZulu-Natal and became the official opposition in the Eastern Cape, Mpumalanga, Northern Cape and Free State, while strengthening its opposition status in Gauteng from 21.86% of the vote in 2009 to 30.78% in 2014. In the Western Cape it gained 59.38% of the vote, an increase from 51.46% in 2009. This article considers whether the DA's 2014 electoral gains suggest a strengthening of opposition politics in South Africa. It focuses on whether the DA meets the obligations of an opposition party with regard to providing an institutional space for counter-political elites to organise and providing a viable alternative to the ruling party together with facilitating debate over political issues and public policy while also performing an oversight role.

Reproducing Toxic Election Campaigns: Negative Campaigning and Race-Based Politics in the Western Cape

Cherrel Africa

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Dr Cherrel Africa is Head of the Department of Political Studies at the University of the Western Cape

ABSTRACT: The 2014 election in the Western Cape was once again a high-stakes, fiercely-contested affair. Political parties saw the Western Cape as an ‘open race' and the province became the centre of vigorous campaign efforts in the lead-up to the election. The African National Congress (ANC), which had lost control of the province because its vote share dropped from 45% in 2004 to 32% in 2009, hoped to unseat the Democratic Alliance (DA), which had won in 2009 by a very narrow margin (51%). The ANC felt that it had done enough to regain control of the province, especially in light of deep-seated disillusionment in many communities and the violent protests that took place prior to the election.While the ANC maintained its support base, winning votes from 33% of the provincial electorate, the type of identity-based campaign it pursued combined with other factors to work to the DA's advantage. Despite the fact that the DA also engaged in racebased campaigning it won 59% of the provincial vote. This was obtained at the expense of small parties, who received negligible support in the 2014 election. Only the Economic Freedom Fighters and the African Christian Democratic Party won enough votes to obtain a seat each in the provincial legislature. This article examines electoral dynamics in the Western Cape, which saw the consolidation of DA support in the province. It focuses on the 2014 election campaign and the extent to which the negative campaign cycle evident in previous elections continued during the 2014 election campaign.

Public Servant or Censor?: The South African Broadcasting Corporation in the Era of Political Television Advertising

Sarah Chiumbu and Antonio Ciaglia

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Sarah Chiumbu is an African Research Fellow in the Human and Social Development Programme at the Human Sciences Research Council and a Visiting Research Fellow in the Department of Media Studies, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.
Antonio Ciaglia is AW Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Media Studies, School of Literature, Language and Media, University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg.

ABSTRACT: Political television advertising is becoming an important feature of democratic elections and essential to election campaign strategies. In this article we take a close look at the role the South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) is playing in the new era of political television advertising ushered in in 2009. We focus our analysis on the banning by the SABC of election advertisements by two major opposition political parties before the 2014 elections. The country's regulator, the Independent Communications Authority of South Africa (Icasa) upheld the decision of the SABC when the two parties filed complaints. The banning of the advertisements and Icasa's decision are assessed on two important principles for public broadcasting - editorial independence and public accountability. We argue in this article that the action by the public broadcaster undermines freedom of expression and the credibility of both the SABC and Icasa, especially when contextualised within other controversial editorial decisions taken by the broadcaster over the years. Further, we argue that laws governing political advertising in South Africa are constitutionally problematic and contain contradictions in how they should be applied and implemented by both broadcasters and Icasa. We conclude by arguing for a review of these laws.

The IEC and the 2014 Elections: A Mark of Institutional Maturity?

Mcebisi Ndletyana

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Mcebisi Ndletyana is Head of the Political Economy Faculty, Mapungubwe Institute for Strategic Reflection (MISTRA) and Senior Research Associate, Political Science Department, University of Johannesburg (UJ)

ABSTRACT: South Africa's election management body, The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), faced an unprecedented situation in the run-up to the country's fifth elections. Its chairperson, Pansy Tlakula, was found to have behaved in a manner unbefitting an electoral commissioner. Her misconduct raised concerns about whether or not the IEC would manage the elections impartially. These concerns, together with the prescribed censure for conduct unbecoming of a commissioner, led to a clamour for her removal. The proximity of the elections, however, militated against the resolution of the saga, leading to Tlakula staying on to oversee the elections. This article looks at whether the imbroglio had an impact on the reputation of the IEC. To make this determination, the article draws on survey findings about the IEC's administration of the elections. Part of the spotlight falls on how the responsible institutions, particularly Parliament and the courts, handled the problem. The article employs an institutionalist theoretical framework to explain its conclusions.


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