Much of Wednesday’s news cycle revolved around violent protests at the University of the Western Cape, protests at parliament, and Riah Phiyega’s bad day. But there were also 11 by-elections on Wednesday, with 3 key races in the Western Cape. These included 2 super-marginal wards. The DA had a clean sweep in the province, making up for their slip up in Theewaterskloof (Grabouw Elgin) last month. By WAYNE SUSSMAN.
Drakenstein Ward 14 (Dalvale Milkytown) DA 57% ANC 42%
This was the DA’s big win from Wednesday night. They won this ward from the ANC after narrowly losing it in 2011. Drakenstein, which includes Paarl and Wellington is the second largest municipality in the Western Cape. The DA will look at this result and fancy their chances of winning the municipality outright again in 2016.
In 2011, the ANC won here by a mere 45 votes, getting 1047 votes, against the DA’s 1002. What will also delight the DA is that they won the ANC’s voting district stronghold of Milky Town. They won this district with 56% of the vote.
The DA now has 36 out of the 61 seats in Drakenstein, and the ANC are down to 18.
Turnout was a solid 59%. DA 1884, ANC 1380, Die Volk Stem Van Suider Afrika 16
Ward 1 Cape Agulhas (Elim Napier) DA 51% ANC 49%
The DA has narrowly held onto this ward again, one of the most competitive in the entire province. They won by 41 votes, down from the 46 votes they won by in 2011.
This by-election could have altered the executive makeup of the municipality if the ANC had won this ward from the DA. The ANC are in coalition here with Independent, Dirk Jantjies. (Jantjies is the current Deputy Mayor of the municipality.) If the ANC won here, they would have had 5 seats and got an outright majority. They could have then ruled without Jantjies.
This by election was in the national spotlight after the DA councillor resigned due to alleged mistreatment by the “white bosses”. This makes the hold for the DA even more important.
If one breaks down the results you see that the ANC lost this ward in the small village of Elim. They might have been able to beat the DA by more than 170 votes in the considerably larger village of Napier, but the DA’s margin was bigger in Elim.
Turnout was a good 57%. DA 1005, ANC 964
Ward 2 Oudtshoorn (Oudtshoorn Schoemanshoek) DA 74% ANC 13% SARCO 8% WDF 5%
This was always going to be an easy hold for the DA. The DA would have concerned itself with voter turnout, the margin of the victory and how the two smaller, local parties would fare. The DA will be happy with the first two outcomes, as the margin was big, and turnout was good. They will be somewhat concerned with the party who came third-The South African Religious Civic Organization.
Oudtshoorn has become a major headache for both the ANC and the DA. The municipality is currently under administration. The ANC, NPP and ICOSA won control of this municipality in 2011. In 2013, the DA won a seat off the ANC, and they and COPE had the numbers to govern here. The ANC and their coalition parties used every trick in the book to prevent this. In July, the NPP councillor defied party orders and worked with the DA to unseat the ANC and ICOSA. The DA/NPP/COPE reign would be short-lived as the NPP councillor and a DA councillor sided with the ANC in September, handing power back to the ANC. That very same DA councillor, Jurie Harmse, defected to the DA from the ANC in 2013 and helped the DA win control of the municipality when he defended his seat in a by election. He and the NPP councillor surely know how to double-cross that bridge when they come to it. This became too much of an embarrassment to Pravin Gordhan and the Western Cape Department of Local Government and the municipality is now under administration.
This by election was important, because at present the DA have 12 seats, and with COPE’s support, their 13 seats outnumber the ANC’s 10 seats, and NPP’s 1 seat and ICOSA’s 1 seat. The problem for the DA is that two of their ward seats were vacant. They have filled one of those vacancies by winning Ward 2 last night. They will now wait for December to see if they can hold Ward 13, the seat of the mercurial Jurie Harmse (who has been linked to SARCO). If they do that, they will have a case to govern here again, with COPE.
Local and/or small 1-seat parties are able to have much sway and say in small and medium sized municipalities in the Western Cape. Even though the DA won the most votes, and seats in Oudtshoorn in 2011, they did not win an outright majority. The ANC were able to govern here because of the 3 parties who picked up one seat each, two of them were more willing to work with the ANC. With SARCO coming third here last night, they will rate their chances of winning a seat in the 2016 local government elections. They are more likely to work with the ANC then the DA.
Turnout was a credible 52%. DA 1463, ANC 250, SARCO 157, Ward Democratic Forum 108
The opposition continue to talk up their chances of getting the ANC under 50% in 3 of ANC-controlled metros in 2016. Two of those had by elections yesterday. They were both safe seats for the incumbents.
Tshwane Ward 16 (Mamelodi East-Ext 6) ANC 77% DA 23%
The ANC won comfortably here, but the DA will be happy with their showing in this ANC stronghold as in two of the voting districts they got over 30% of the vote. They also received more votes here than they did in 2011, when turnout was much higher. It is a pity that the EFF did not contest here.
Turnout was a poor 21%. ANC 2118, DA 646
Johannesburg Ward 73 (Killarney Houghton) DA 93% ANC 6%
Two former presidents live in Ward 73: Thabo Mbeki and Kgalema Motlanthe are residents here. This is also the ward associated with Helen Suzman.
The DA romped to victory but will be concerned by the poor turnout as turnout was only at 22%.
DA 2985, ANC 208, COPE 27
The Rest of the Races:
The ANC won two wards which were uncontested. These were Ward 8 in Engcobo in the Eastern Cape and Ward 13 in Matlosana (Klerksdorp). It is strange that the EFF did not contest the latter. They also won 89% of the vote in Ward 5 in Nkomazi in Mpumalanga. While there is a tendency to focus on the marginal races, the ANC’s margin of victory in Nkomazi, and the fact that they were uncontested in two races should not be underestimated.
The DA won 99% of the vote in Ward 13 in Ngwathe (Parys). Turnout here was relatively high for such a one-sided contest. The DA also had a big win in Ward 17 in Rustenburg winning 86% of the vote. The Freedom Front (FF+), like the EFF, have this uncanny ability to frustrate by-election watchers by rarely entering the fray. They contested here and had a very poor showing. They finished third with only 6% of the vote. DM
Photo: People queue to cast their votes during the South African municipal elections in Soweto May 18, 2011. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko.