2019’s elections saw almost all politicians fail on their bold predictions

Whether a political tactic or genuine self-delusion, SA's politicians tripped themselves up repeatedly with their bold predictions.

As the 2019 South African elections draw to a close, the public can sit back and marvel at the depths of self-delusion on display by their country’s politicians.

From EFF president Julius Malema telling his party faithful at Orlando stadium that the “red flag would fly high at the Union Buildings after the May 8 vote” to “Best Leader” Hlaudi Motsoeneng insisting he would be the country’s next president, even as results suggested he would be lucky to get one seat, overstated self-belief seems to have been the name of the game in these elections.

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Hlaudi Motsoeneng.

Whether it was a political tactic or genuine confusion, politicians seemed very eager this year to declare larger potential wins than they were ever likely to achieve.

One of the kings of this overstatement was the ZACP who, perhaps caught in something of a social media echo chamber, genuinely had themselves down for a number of seats in parliament if founder Roman Cabanac’s Twitter feed was anything to go by.

Perhaps more odd than those who surmised they would be political players before the election are those who, having seen the results, have turned to conspiracy theories to explain their losses.

The BLF’s deputy leader, Zanele Lwana, has incredulously refused to believe the party’s poor performance at the polls and has alleged that it is somehow linked to a conspiracy involving “white monopoly capital” and the bigger parties. This was echoed by Hlaudi Motsoeneng, who has refused to acknowledge that the end to his run for president might be the result of good old-fashioned poor politicking.


The forgiving would say there is space to allow for political naivety among the newer parties, whose excitement may have gotten them carried away, but this trend of overspeaking didn’t just come from them.

Way back in March provincial chairperson of the DA Michael Moriarty made promises to supporters at the Sausville Arena in Pretoria that he could not keep.

“They said we couldn’t win in Johannesburg, but we did. They say we won’t win in Gauteng, but we will,” Moriarty enthusiastically told supporters.

In the end, the party won some 27.5% of the vote – nowhere close to a win, and a far cry from the 50.01% needed to outright lead the province.

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