South Africa

South Africa

By-elections preview: January 20

Archive Photo: A mother carries her baby on her back as she casts her vote during the South African municipal elections in Soweto May 18 2011. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

2016 is the year of the local government elections, and today (20 January) will be the first opportunity for contesting parties to see what shape they are in. By WAYNE SUSSMAN.

There are nine by-elections around the country on Wednesday 20 January, and the usual suspects have joined the race. The most prominent of these are African National Congress (ANC), the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the National Freedom Party (NFP). The two parties that could upset the status quo, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Vryheidsfront Plus (VF+) are staying away from the poll. Both parties like to err on the side of caution, and instead of playing a spoiling role, they would rather watch from the side-lines. There are also no independent candidates, or any local parties contesting. Of the nine places up for grabs, four will be contested, three are safe seats, and two are uncontested.

THE CONTESTS

Ward 5 Camdeboo (Graaff-Reinet-Kroonvale).

2011 results: DA 58% ANC 39%.

The Camdeboo municipality would have been a prime target for the DA in the 2016 local government elections. The ANC had a narrow win in the municipality in 2011, winning 7 seats to the DA’s 5,  and the DA would have loved to wrest control here. The challenge for the DA is that this municipality is being merged with the (DA-controlled) Baviaans municipality (Willowmore), and the ANC controlled-Ikwhezi municipality (Jansenville). If you combine all those municipalities the ANC would have 15 seats and the DA would have 11 seats.

If the DA has any chance in this new municipality, they would not only have to hold this marginal seat, but win well here. The DA won here by 275 votes in 2011. Analysing the 2014 results in the voting districts of this ward, that DA’s winning margin fell to 82 votes. Only the ANC and DA will contest here.

Ward 15 Abaqulusi (Esigodini Nontu near Vryheid)

2011 results: Inkatha Freedom party (IFP) 48% NFP 28% ANC 18%

The IFP will defend two wards today. The party had a good end to 2015, and will want to continue with that momentum. Ward 15 will be the tougher ward to defend. They won here by over 430 votes in 2011, with the ANC coming a distant third. Considering the 2014 national election results in these voting districts, the IFP won here by a mere four votes, pipping the ANC at the post, with the NFP coming third, less than a 100 votes behind the IFP.

There are six voting districts in this ward. In 2014, each of the major parties won two districts each with the IFP carrying the biggest voting district. The NFP had a miserable 2014 and will want to have a strong showing in this ward.

The current composition of the council sees the ANC with their 17 seats govern with the NFP, who have seven seats. The IFP (16), DA (three) and the Owethu Residents Association (one) fill the opposition benches. Even if the IFP were to lose here to the ANC tomorrow, the party would still rely on the NFP to govern. The ANC, NFP and IFP will contest here.

Ward 10 Indaka (Mbango Mthembu near Waaihoek)

2011 results: IFP 69% ANC 18% NFP 12%

The IFP won big here in 2011, but they will not be resting on their laurels in this municipality. The IFP lost a by election in Indaka in 2015, and will want to have a convincing hold here. They carried this ward by over 1400 votes in 2011, but in 2014 they only carried the voting districts in this ward by 113 votes. The NFP had a very good showing in these voting districts in 2014, and will want to win this ward and salvage the pride lost in 2015. The ANC (seven) governs here with the NFP (six). The IFP with their seven seats are in the opposition. The ANC, NFP and IFP will contest here.

Ward 1 Ngwathe  (Sandersville Heilbron Farms)

2011 results: PR ANC 53% DA 30% COPE 7% VF+ 9%
This is Premier Ace Magashule’s home municipality, and he will want a good win in this tricky ward. There are 11 voting districts in this ward, but the voting district in Sandersville is bigger than all the other voting districts combined.

Only the ANC and the DA will contest here. The VF+ carried two voting districts here in 2011. The DA will want to pick up those VF+ votes, and both parties will want to get the COPE voters to lend them their vote in this by election. You have to favour the ANC to hold here, but the DA will want to get more than 40% here.

THE SAFE SEATS

Ward 42 Tshwane (Waterkloof Monument Park)

2011 results: DA 82% ANC 13% VF+ 3%
This is a very safe DA seat. However, the party will have one eye on the 2016 local government elections, and hope to have a solid turnout here and increase their margin of victory. Only the ANC and DA will contest here.

Ward 10 Ingwe (Bulwer Nkumba)

2011 results: PR ANC 86% NFP 9% IFP 2%
The 2011 results here show how dominant the ANC is in southern KwaZulu-Natal. The ANC will romp home here, and the battle for second is the real contest here. The ANC, NFP and IFP will contest here.

Ward 16 Rustenburg (Geelhoutpark)

2011 results DA 85% ANC 11% VF+ 3%

This is a very safe seat. The DA will want a higher turnout than the last by election in Rustenburg where less than 20% of the registered population voted. Only the ANC and DA will contest here.

THE UNCONTESTED
The ANC’s dominance in uncontested wards cannot be underestimated. They hold
Ward 28 in Moretele (Moeka) in the North West and Ward 4 in Phumelela (Vrede Thembalihle) in the Free State. DM

Photo: A mother carries her baby on her back as she casts her vote during the South African municipal elections in Soweto May 18 2011. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

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