South Africa’s ANC Unlikely to Ally With Populists, Report Says

(Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s ruling African National Congress is likely to win 44.8% of the vote in this month’s national election and will be loath to invite populist rivals into a governing coalition, according to research group Krutham.

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The predicted vote outcome, based on an analysis of opinion polls and municipal byelection results as well as discussions with political parties, will enable the ANC to form an alliance with malleable smaller parties, Krutham said in a report released on Wednesday. The ANC would prefer a tie-up with the biggest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, to partnering with groups that splintered from its ranks, it said.

With the May 29 election set to be the tightest since apartheid ended three decades ago and a number of polls forecasting the ANC will lose its national majority for the first time, investors are focusing on who its prospective partners might be.

The prospect of an alliance with the Economic Freedom Fighters or the uMkhonto weSizwe Party — known as the MKP and led by former President Jacob Zuma — has raised concern among investors. Both parties splintered from the ANC and advocate land expropriation, widespread nationalization and a reversal of efforts to decarbonize the economy.

“We do not see an EFF-ANC coalition as likely at all,” Krutham Managing Director Peter Attard Montalto and research analyst Nduduzo Langa wrote in the report. Montalto and Krutham Chairman Stuart Theobald are well-known commentators on South Africa.

The Johannesburg-based group, which assigned a 45% probability to its ANC vote-share forecast materializing, said a ruling coalition is most likely to be formed between the ANC, the Inkatha Freedom Party and smaller groups. Other scenarios considered by the research group, which take account of varying voter turnout and other factors, show the ANC garnering between 38% and 48% of the vote.

With the ANC having won 57.5% support in 2019, all those outcomes would result in the ANC’s largest ever loss of vote share. Its performance will determine the makeup of a post-election coalition.

Krutham sees the DA winning 22.7% of the vote, the EFF 9.8%, the MKP 7.7% and the IFP 4%.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said the ruling party is seeking a clear majority.

If the ANC’s share of the vote falls to below 50% “that will be the danger zone for our country,” he said in a speech in Johannesburg on Monday. “Our country needs a strong government that will be led by one party.”

The Krutham forecast for the ANC share is well above that of polls carried out by Ipsos, the Social Research Foundation and the Brenthurst Foundation in March and April, but is similar to the SRF’s latest daily tracking poll. The methodology of South African polling groups has been questioned by political analysts.

--With assistance from Paul Richardson.

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