Battle of the ballot
As politicians crisscross South Africa today in a last-ditch attempt to woo the waverers among the country's 24 million registered voters, analysts are predicting a strong turnout.
At stake tomorrow in the most closely contested local government elections since the transition to democracy in 1994 are 283 municipalities, including six metropoles.
ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe put his ''neck on a block'' yesterday, by predicting that voter turnout would exceed that of 2006.
The turnout five years ago was 48%. If past national elections are anything to go by, a high turnout will favour the ruling party.
''It's going to be better than 48% ... because I've been there, we've talked to people, we have a sense of the mood,'' Mantashe told political journalists and editors in Johannesburg
''Our [the ANC's] support on the white vote is going to increase,'' he said.
A study by Ipsos Markinor released yesterday confirmed that the ANC was still by far the most dominant political party, but that its support has decreased since the 2009 general election.
The research showed that the ANC commanded the support of 56.6% of adults, including registered voters and likely voters.
It was followed by the DA, at 19.3%, and the IFP at 2.1%.
There was 1.2% support for the Congress of the People, 0.5% for the United Democratic Movement and 0.8% each for the African People's Convention, the African Christian Democratic Party and the Minority Front.
Political analyst Somadoda Fikeni said tomorrow's voter turnout would differ significantly between municipalities and metros.
''In some areas, especially the metros, we will have slightly more voters turning up. In other areas there will be a low turnout due to election boycotts," said Fikeni.
Independent analyst Daniel Silke believes that the ANC will, except in Western Cape, continue to control most of the country.
"But we will see voters thinking more carefully about their votes. Loyalty will remain with the ANC, but not as airtight as it used to be," said Silke.
He said voters will turn up in large numbers to voice their frustrations and concerns, and that the ANC was the cause of more frustration among its supporters than other parties.
"The ANC does not command the absolute power it thought it did, but voters will reluctantly still vote for the ANC because they are the party of the liberation," Silke said.
Whereas the ANC, DA and COPE will be out canvassing today, party leaders such as the IFP's Mbangiseni Yengwa, mayor of KwaZulu-Natal's Umzinyathi district, has decided to take his election campaign to a higher power by fasting and praying.
DA leader Helen Zille; the party's Cape Town mayoral candidate, Patricia de Lille; Western Cape human settlements MEC Bonginkosi Madikizela and the party's Cape Town regional chair, Grant Pascoe, will wind down their campaign in the Mother City.
Zille and De Lille will travel across Mitchells Plain, Khayelitsha and Delft on the DA's "Delivery Bus" to garner support.
Zille and De Lille are hoping for an outright majority in the fiercely contested Cape Town.
Campaigning in Diepkloof, in Soweto, yesterday, Zille told party supporters that the ANC had abandoned Madiba's vision.
She was referring to ANC supporters who reportedly sang the controversial Dubul iBhunu song at the ruling party's Siyanqoba (victory) rally at the FNB stadium on Sunday.
In a bid to sway voters away from the DA, the ANC's chairman in Western Cape, Marius Fransman, said ANC-run councils in the province will implement key provisions of a controversial bill that seeks to outlaw cadre deployment.
In Riverlea, southern Johannesburg, yesterday, President Jacob Zuma again appealed to the ruling party's supporters' emotions by reminding them that South Africa suffered for 300 years under colonial rule.
Zuma will rest today before voting in his home village of Nkandla, in KwaZulu-Natal .
Speaking at Malandeni informal settlement, near Umlazi, in Durban, COPE president Mosioua Lekota said that his party advocated clean governance and that corruption and fraud would not be tolerated.
Both Idasa and the Election Monitoring Network said yesterday that, though fiercely contested, the campaigns for tomorrow's elections had been the most peaceful since 1994.
''Despite a number of serious incidents, by and large this has been the most peaceful elections since the advent of democracy, with the least experience of political intolerance,'' the Archbishop of Cape Town, Thabo Makgoba, said.
Makgoba warned that there was the potential for strife in the tightly contested metros of Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane, and in the municipalities of Midvaal in Gauteng, and Buffalo City and Alfred Nzo, in Eastern Cape. - Additional reporting by Sapa