Pretoria – "The elections are over, we have won – now it’s time to implement our manifesto."
These were the enthusiastic remarks by ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte as jubilant scenes played out at her party’s election desk at the Electoral Commission’s centre in Tshwane.
This was after the IEC’s leader board reflected a 57.5% tally for the 107-year-old organisation, which retained its governing party status.
When the results board showed 100% votes captured at around 2pm on Saturday, it became clear that the ANC would be the dominant party again in the country’s sixth democratic Parliament, and have the right to form a government until at least 2024, when the next national and provincial elections will be held.
Duarte, who was speaking to Independent Media at the ANC’s election desk, asserted that the governing party "would now be rolling up our sleeves and serve our people".
"We will have our lekgotla (planning session) at the end of May, where we will be discussing the implementation of our manifesto and our priorities.
"We will also look at the appointment of provincial premiers and try to finalise that as soon as we can," Duarte explained.
"The president (Cyril Ramaphosa) will then decide on his Cabinet. We don’t know when he will announce the Cabinet; that is his prerogative and he will announce at his own leisure.
"But for now, as you can see, we are very, very happy," Duarte enthused.
Ace Magashule, the ANC’s secretary-general, during a visit to Independent Media’s office at the results centre, confirmed that Ramaphosa would reduce his Cabinet significantly, but could not immediately reveal by how much the reduction would be.
The ANC declined by almost 5% compared to the 62.15% it got in 2014.
The IEC will make the official announcement on Saturday evening when Ramaphosa is expected to receive the results on behalf of the country.
The biggest winners, though, appear to be the EFF and the Freedom Front Plus (VF+), the two parties which had exponential growth from the 2014 elections.
In those elections, the EFF, which was making its debut, received roughly 1.2 million votes, which has increased to about 1.9 million this year. The EFF were short of around 120 000 more votes to reach the psychological mark of 2 million people who out their X’s next to the Red Berets.
The FF+ received 165 715 votes in 2014, but grew to an astonishing 414 844.
Political analyst and renowned author Richard Calland posited to Independent Media on Friday that the FF+’s gains were a consequence of the DA losing its traditional white voters, especially those whom Calland referred to as "right-wing".
Calland said the DA’s pre-occupation with attracting black voters had alienated white people, who, Calland added, were not sure whether the official opposition was serious about factoring their interests.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane, however, said on Friday that he was proud that his party sought to appeal to a diverse base, saying the official opposition suffered from a rise "in radicalism and nationalism" at these elections.
The DA dropped from 22.2% in 2014 to 20.8 at these elections.