EM Thematic December 15, 2021 / 11:13 am UTC

Can Action SA Make The Transition From Local To National Elections In 2024?

By Francesca Beausang

Herman Mashaba, the right-wing Action SA leader, has borrowed from Navalny's smart voting in Russia and from Germany's rainbow coalitions, potentially becoming kingmaker in the 2024 elections. He agreed with far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) to vote in the mainstream opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) to exclude the ANC from municipalities.

Mashaba, who left the DA in 2019, and EFF leader Julius Malema have pushed the DA into a minority governing position in Johannesburg and other cities in Gauteng, without a formal coalition in place. Not only have they blocked the ANC from winning in multiple municipalities, but now they are also forcing the DA to depend on their votes at municipal level or court the ANC. Yet Action SA is the greater winner compared to the EFF, in that the October elections have shown that a ceiling of less than 15% caps EFF support nationwide. Part of Action SA’s success is that it has fostered a deliberately multiracial image (despite its anti-immigration position), which has allowed it to take votes from both the ANC and the DA, and unlike the EFF, it does not come from the tainted ANC. Its performance in Johannesburg, where it captured 16% of the votes is particularly striking. Its widespread appeal is clear from the fact that it did well in the Soweto township but also champions a more conservative free market agenda. The question is how the Action SA-EFF marriage of convenience will translate at the national level for the 2024 elections. While we have little doubt that the ANC will continue to underperform on employment and infrastructure until then, the opposition needs a workable government and a marriage of convenience is no such thing. As it is, Johannesburg is still missing key officials because negotiations between Action SA and the EFF are incomplete.

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I, Francesca Beausang, the lead analyst certify that the views expressed herein are mine and are clear, fair and not misleading at the time of publication. They have not been influenced by any relationship, either a personal relationship of mine or a relationship of the firm, to any entity described or referred to herein nor to any client of Continuum Economics nor has any inducement been received in relation to those views. I further certify that in the preparation and publication of this report I have at all times followed all relevant Continuum Economics compliance protocols including those reasonably seeking to prevent the receipt or misuse of material non-public information.