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By Kyle Zeeman

Digital News Editor


Elections 2024: These are the battlegrounds you need to watch

As millions cast their votes across the country today, here's what you need to know about the fight for each province.


Millions cast their vote in the 2024 national and provincial elections this week, hoping their mark will make a difference.

While the ruling ANC is confident of keeping an outright majority, its lead has been slipping in recent years. Some analysts predict it may drop below 50% of the vote, with a coalition the most likely scenario in many projections.

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While predicting a winning party is easy in some provinces, it is a lot more difficult in others.

KwaZulu-Natal, Gauteng and the Western Cape will each see fierce contests for votes.

Here’s what you need to know about the fight for each province:

KZN

There could be actual blood in this battleground, with political killing rampant in KwaZulu-Natal.

Former president Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party may challenge the ANC and IFP in many areas of the province, particularly in the north and inland areas.

The DA won its first-ever municipality in KZN during the 2021 municipal elections, and may make inroads in urban areas.

The ANC has a presence throughout the province, but will hope to hold its grip on the southern part of the province, where it is dominant.

KZN is still a stronghold for the IFP and its influence may be growing. It scored 24.2% support in the 2021 elections and 16.34% in the last provincial elections. It currently runs much of northern and inland KZN, including Zuma’s hometown of Nkandla with 57.1%

READ MORE ON THE KZN BATTLEGROUNDS HERE

GAUTENG

The province where everything changes in the blink of an eye.

The battle for the economic heart of the country has been a fierce one since the ANC lost control of the major metros in the province in the 2021 polls.

Since then, there have been horror coalitions and a mayoral merry-go-round in most chambers of the province.

The ANC will be hoping to claw back support to win the province outright and will be encouraged by the popularity of its premier, Panyaza Lesufi.

The DA has made serious inroads in the province over the last few elections and with its coalition partners, may squeeze into power.

The EFF will likely be a kingmaker in the province, as it has been in metros, and has a lot of support in the province. Who it backs may rule Gauteng for the next five years.

READ MORE ON THE GAUTENG BATTLEGROUNDS HERE

WESTERN CAPE

The DA’s heartland may be challenged in this election, particularly among coloured and Indian voters amid the Gaza conflict.

The DA has been governing the Western Cape since the 2009 election. It grew its majority in 2014, but lost support in the 2019 election and dropped slightly more in 2021.

The ANC made inroads in the central and eastern part of the province in the last elections, while the Patriotic Alliance gained large support in the north.

Independent candidates polled third in the 2021 elections and will be something to watch out for.

READ MORE ON THE WESTERN CAPE BATTLEGROUNDS HERE

EASTERN CAPE

While the ANC’s support is on very shaky ground in most parts of the country, the party is likely to beat its opponents once more in the Eastern Cape in these elections to regain control of its traditional heartland.

The home of Nelson Mandela and other popular past party leaders will likely stay in ANC’s hands.

However, the DA’s slim victory in Nelson Mandela Bay may hint at consolidation to expand its support in the western part of the province.

EFF is the third-most popular party in the province and will be hoping to be a kingmaker at the very least.

READ MORE ON THE EASTERN CAPE BATTLEGROUNDS HERE

FREE STATE

The ANC will aim to build on its 2021 local government election victory, where it secured 50.61% of the vote, despite a decline in support compared to the 2016 polls.

In the municipal elections, the governing party received the most votes in each of the Free State’s 19 municipalities and retained control of its birthplace, the Mangaung metro.

READ MORE ON THE FREE STATE BATTLEGROUNDS HERE

LIMPOPO

If past provincial, national and recent by-elections, are any indication, the ANC is poised for another clean sweep in Limpopo.

Of the 10 million votes the ANC got in the 2019 elections, just over one million of those were cast in Limpopo, representing a 77% support.

The EFF got 14% of the votes in the 2021 polls and created a centre of strength in the eastern part of the province.

It may look to a coalition to unseat the ANC but bar a massive political meltdown that would unlikely change anything in the province.

READ MORE ON THE LIMPOPO BATTLEGROUNDS HERE

NORTHERN CAPE

The ANC is targeting a 62.78% victory in the province, building from their overwhelming win of 50.55% in the 2021 local government elections.

However, this will not come easily as some political parties aim to grow in South Africa’s least populated province.

The ANC retained four seats across four municipalities in the Northern Cape in three by-elections held over the past few months.

Despite this governing party’s support decreased in three of the municipalities when compared to the votes cast in the 2021 municipal elections.

READ MORE ON THE NORTHERN CAPE BATTLEGROUNDS HERE

MPUMALANGA

Mpumalanga remains an ANC stronghold, with the party having garnered 70.58% support in the last elections.

The EFF was the second-biggest party with 12.79% and the DA 9.77%.

However, recent by-elections in Mpumalanga indicate that the MK party may take some votes from the three parties.

READ MORE ON THE MPUMALANGA BATTLEGROUNDS HERE

NORTH WEST

The ANC won the North West in 2021, gaining 55.4 of the province’s total votes.

The EFF at 16% and DA at 11.39% made inroads in some areas, particularly in the centre and south of the province.

The Freedom Front Plus held a centre of support in the JB Marks and Mamusa areas but even if all three opposition parties work together it may not be enough to unseat the ANC in the province.