Discover opportunity in South Africa’s general election
The 2019 general election results are out. The uncertainty surrounding a new government and its policies could give rise to more volatility than usual. Follow our expert analysis to find out where the rand, JSE-listed shares and the Top 40 index could be headed next.
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What impact are election results having on financial markets?
The release of election results has seen the rand strengthen against a number of currencies. Traders should also keep track of any movements on JSE-listed shares and the South Africa 40 index in the coming weeks.
How did South Africa vote?
The official results for the 2019 general election were released on 11 May, and have revealed the following key voting statisitics:
- Registered voters: 26,779,025
- Total valid votes cast: 17,436,144
- Voter turnout: 65.99%
- Spoilt votes cast: 235,472
The national vote
The ANC received 57.50% of the national vote, securing another majority victory. The ruling party did, however, see its share of the vote decline by nearly 5% compared to the previous general election held in 2014.
The official opposition party, the DA, secured just 20.77% of the vote – a drop of 1.46% compared to 2014, and the first time the party has experienced a decline since 1994. Interestingly, this loss in support is of a similar size to the growth of the more conservative VF Plus.
Having nearly doubled its share of the vote to 10.79%, the EFF will have lots to cheer about. The decline in support for the ANC is similar to the margin of gain by the EFF – presumably the new home for many disgruntled former ANC supporters.
Representation in the National Assembly
The table below displays the seats allocated in the National Assembly according to the election outcome:
|Party||Number of seats|
The regional vote
The ANC just managed to hold onto its majority in Gauteng with 50.19% of the vote, while the DA received 27.45%. The ANC and the DA have both seen their share of the vote fall by roughly 3% since the last general election.
On the other hand the EFF (14.69%) and VF Plus (3.56%) have both managed to increase their support, capitalising on the declines of the ANC and DA.
The Western Cape
With a majority of 55.45% of the vote, the DA will continue to govern the Western Cape province for another five-year term. Although the ANC fell by 4.26%, it will remain the official opposition party with 28.63% of the vote.
Perhaps a surprise to many is the Good party (3.01%), which received nearly 62,000 votes despite coming into existence only six months ago.
The ANC’s 54.22% majority in Kwazulu-Natal (KZN) is substantially less than the 64.52% support it received in the 2014 general election. This contrasts with significant growth in the EFF (up from 1.85% in 2014 to 9.71%) and the IFP (up from 10.86% in 2014 to 16.34%).
The KZN region has historically been a stronghold for former ANC (and South African) president Jacob Zuma. There’s a suggestion that Zuma’s forced resignation as president of the country may have led voters to return to the IFP – the traditional KZN rival.
Markets to watch after the election
Forex – the rand
The rand (ZAR) strengthened in the short term after the last two general elections (2009 and 2014) were held. It appears that while populous retort associated with election campaigning often causes weakness in the short term, a free and fair election outcome often sees this type of commentary fading and the rand strengthening.
The most contentious issue leading up to the 2019 elections has been the expropriation of land without compensation. The EFF and ANC have both been lobbying hard in favour of this position, with a view to amending the Constitution to support it. The commentary pre- and post-elections, which includes the possibility of coalitions being formed to advance this agenda, will likely be cause for volatility in the rand.
Shares – companies listed on the JSE
Volatility in the rand is likely to be echoed in local shares during the election period. The banking and retail sectors favour a strengthening rand, while companies reliant on exports (like mining) and those deriving a large portion of earnings outside of South Africa’s borders (like rand-hedge stocks) prefer a weaker rand.
Indices – South Africa 40
The South Africa 40, derived from the underlying Safex Futures contract, is benchmarked against the JSE Top 40 index. More than 65% of earnings which come from the companies making up the JSE Top 40 are derived in foreign currency.
A weaker rand can be considered a positive influence on the index as it would be considered positive for (rand) earnings in the shares that make up the index. Inversely, a stronger rand might be considered negative for these shares and therefore the index. Notable rand-hedge counters include Naspers, Richemont, BHP and Sasol – collectively making up about 40% of the index’s weighting.
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Who were the main contenders and what are their policies?
The African National Congress (ANC) has been the governing party since the first democratic elections were held in 1994. The party’s presidential candidate is Cyril Ramaphosa – the current president of South Africa.
The ANC received 62.15% of the vote during the 2014 general election and is expected to receive the bulk of the vote once again, albeit by a smaller margin. Polling data suggests that the ANC’s share of the vote could decrease by between 1-7.5% (relative to the 2014 election). This decline is expected to occur primarily in the Gauteng province – a key metropolitan area. If this turns out to be the case, it could create an opportunity for opposition parties to take over the province in the form of a coalition.
During the launch of the ANC’s 2019 election manifesto, Ramaphosa trumpeted three main policy positions: the creation of jobs, the combating of corruption and the expropriation of land without compensation.
Addressing the contentious expropriation of land issue, Ramaphosa reassured investors that ‘…they need not fear that their investments and assets will be taken away from them. This measure will be undertaken in a way that promotes economic development and agricultural output and that does not undermine the principles of our Constitution or the rule of law.’
The Democratic Alliance (DA) is the official opposition party to the ruling ANC, and has governed the Western Cape province since 2009. The DA’s presidential candidate is Mmusi Maimane.
The party performed well in the 2014 elections, receiving 22.23% of the vote, but is unlikely to grow much more in this year’s elections. It’s widely speculated that the DA could see its support in the Western Cape decline as a result of political infighting involving former party heavyweight Patricia de Lille. De Lille has been accused of corruption and mismanagement during her reign as Cape Town mayor – allegations which have raised serious concerns over the DA’s capacity to govern effectively. De Lille, who remains immensely popular in the Western Cape, formed her own political party (Good) late last year which could draw a number of votes away from the DA.
The DA could, however, see its fortunes in the Gauteng province improve should the coalition trend from the 2016 municipal election be continued.
Economic growth and job creation form the basis of the DA’s election agenda. Maimane has claimed that 123,000 new jobs were created in the drought-stricken Western Cape (compared to a similar number of jobs that were lost in Gauteng), while the province’s unemployment rate of 20% is 14 percentage points lower than that of the national average.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are a self-proclaimed ‘leftist, militant economic emancipation movement’ founded in 2013 by former ANC Youth League president Julius Malema.
The party contested general elections for the first time in 2014 and received an impressive 6.35% of the vote. It’s anticipated that the party could come close to doubling its share of the vote in this election, drawing heavily from the marginalised youth demographic that forms the base of its support.
Malema, the EFF’s self-styled ‘Commander-in-Chief’ and presidential candidate, has been instrumental in driving the land reform agenda in South Africa. If elected, the party promises to amend section 25 (property clause) of the Constitution to allow for the expropriation of land without compensation.
It’s understood that existing coalitions between the DA and the EFF in key Gauteng metropolitan areas could be under threat due to opposing views on the land issue. Here the EFF’s position is far more closely aligned with that of the ANC – a coalition between the two parties appearing ever more likely.
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1 Based on revenue excluding FX (published half-yearly financial statements, June 2019).
2 Negative balance protection applies to trading-related debt only, and is not available to professional traders.