The Democratic Alliance’s unsatisfactory performance in the 2019 general elections reflects its poor governance record in the metros it took control of in the 2016 local government election.
Various factors — infighting, ideological confusion, conflicting messages about race and identity, the dramatic change in the electoral environment with the election of Cyril Ramaphosa as ANC president and the departure of Jacob Zuma — contributed to the DA’s decline at the polls.
But what is also evident is the DA did not live up to its own promise of better and clean governance in the metros it won in 2016. There are ample examples in Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay and Johannesburg of a party out of its depth in governing complex cities.
It is not surprising, then, that the electorate did not trust the DA to run the country’s economic heartland, Gauteng, or any other province.
An ecstatic Helen Zille declared in 2014 that the DA had “broken the ceiling”, referring to the electoral ceiling the party had historically been confined to.
In that election, the DA’s support grew from 17% in 2009 to 22%.