It was almost business as usual in the first round of by elections for 2016. All incumbent parties held their seats, but with the ANC surging in Ward 10 in Indaka to give the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) a major fright. By WAYNE SUSSMAN.
Ward 10 Indaka ( Mbango Mthembu near Waaihoek)
IFP 47% (69% in 2011) ANC 43% (18%) NFP 10% (12%); 54% turnout
The IFP battled to retain this ward, winning by less than 100 votes last night. In 2011, they romped home here, winning by over 1400 votes. That margin was dramatically reduced last night, as the ANC garnered almost 300 more votes than they received here in these voting districts in the 2014 national elections. The ANC won a ward off the IFP in Indaka in 2014 and will look to make their case to the voters to govern outright here in this municipality when the local government elections come around later this year. (They currently govern here with the NFP.)
If we compare last night’s result with the 2011 results, the National Freedom Party’s (NFP) showing was palatable, but if you compare it to the results in the voting districts contested here last night with the 2014 national election results, there would be much concern for them. They finished second in the voting districts of this ward in 2014, only 113 votes behind the IFP. On Wednesday night they slipped to a distant third.
The IFP will be relieved with the hold but will know that their chances of governing here after 2016 after getting very slim. They will need the ANC-NFP alliance to break for them to have any chance to make that a possibility. The ANC (7) governs here with the NFP (6) against the IFP (7).
Ward 15 Abaqulusi (Esigodini Nontu near Vryheid)
IFP 50% (48%) NFP 28% (28%) ANC 22% (18%); 51% turnout
This was a good hold for the IFP; they were able to narrowly increase their margin of victory here, compared with that of the 2011 results. The results here last night essentially mirror the previous results in this ward. However, if you look at the 2014 results of the voting districts in this ward, you get a sense of the hard work done by the IFP to win voters between the general elections and now. In 2014, they beat the ANC by a mere 4 votes in the voting districts of this ward, with the NFP not much further behind. This win for the IFP makes up for the ground they have lost in Indaka.
The composition of the council remains the same with the ANC (17) governing with the NFP (7). The IFP (16), Democratic Alliance (DA) (3) and the Owethu Residents Association (1) fill the opposition benches. The ANC will defend a relatively safe seat in Abaqulusi in February. It will be interesting to see what their margin of victory will be, and whether the IFP can beat the NFP to second place.
Ward 5 Camdeboo (Graaff-Reinet Kroonvale)
DA 59% (58%) ANC 41% (39%); 47% turnout
This was a solid hold for the DA, but the party would have wanted a bigger margin of victory here, as the ANC-controlled Camdeboo municipality is being merged with with the (DA-controlled) Baviaans municipality (Willowmore), and the ANC controlled-Ikwhezi municipality (Jansenville) for the 2016 local government elections. If you combine all those municipalities the ANC would have 15 seats and the DA would have 11 seats. The results from last night do not suggest that they did enough to start overturning that 4 seat deficit.
Having said that, the DA will be satisfied with their showing here, compared with the results of the voting districts in this ward in 2014. The DA won by only 82 votes in 2014, and lost a voting district to the ANC, whereas last night the DA won both voting districts in this ward, and won by strong 249 votes.
Ward 1 Ngwathe (Sandersville Heilbron Farms)
ANC 55% (53% Proportional Representation (PR) ballot), DA 45% (30% PR); 46% turnout
The ANC held this ward by 132 votes last night. The DA pushed the ANC in the largest voting district in the ward, but it was not enough as they fell short at the Sandersville voting station by 98 votes. The Sandersville voting station is bigger than all the other 10 voting stations in this ward, combined. Premier Ace Magashule will be a happy man, as this ward falls in his home municipality, and it is a good enough start to the electoral year for the Premier.
Ward 42 Tshwane (Waterkloof Monument Park)
DA 96% (82%) ANC 4% (13%); 33% turnout
This was always going to be an easy hold for the DA, but the margin of victory is impressive. The DA would have wanted a slightly higher turnout, but this margin of victory bodes well for them in their quest to bring the ANC under 50% in this metro, and try to govern here after the 2016 local government elections.
The Rest of the Races
The ANC showed their southern KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) dominance by thumping the IFP in Ward 10 in Ingwe (Bulwer Nkumba). The ANC won 94% of the vote here, against the IFP’s 6%.
The DA had an easy hold in Ward 16 in Rustenburg (Geelhoutpark). They won 89% of the vote while the ANC got 11%. Turnout was low here at 26%.
The ANC also held Ward 28 in Moretele (Moeka) in the North West and Ward 4 in Phumelela (Vrede Thembalihle) in the Free State. Both were uncontested.
The ANC will look at last night and will be delighted by their surge in the Indaka by-election. They will also be happy with holding their ground in the Camdeboo, Ngwathe and Abaqulusi. The fact that they continue to win by-elections with ease in the southern region of KZN and that they were not challenged in two wards also means that this was a good start to the electoral year.
They will be concerned by their poor showing in Tshwane, even though it was always seen as a safe DA seat.
The DA stood their ground in Camdeboo, but would have wanted a bigger margin of victory. They also came close in Ngwathe. Their best result was in Tshwane where they were able to defend a safe seat, but also increase their percentage voter share to 96%.
They will be worried about Indaka, but content with their good hold in Abaqulusi.
The 2015 freefall did not continue last night, but they still have much to do to win voters back.
The next round of by elections will be on the 24th of February, where 6 ANC-held seats in Tlokwe (Potchefstroom) will be re-run, and the DA will have a chance to win an outright majority in the beleaguered Oudtshoorn municipality. DM
Photo: People queue to cast their votes during the South African municipal elections in Soweto May 18, 2011. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko