South Africa

By-elections: Poll upset for ANC in Mpumalanga but KZN remains solid

By Wayne Sussman 19 October 2017

The African National Congress (ANC) had to defend six safe seats in an October 18 by-election. These included three seats in southern KwaZulu-Natal (KZN), and one each in the “Premier League” provinces of Mpumalanga, Free State and the North West. The ANC lost a seat in Mpumalanga to a former ANC councillor who ran as an independent. The ANC also lost some ground in the only Metro by-election of the night in Mangaung. It was still a very good night for them in KZN and the North West. By WAYNE SUSSMAN.

Ward 1 in  Dr Pixley Ka Isaka Seme  (Vukuzakhe Volksrust) in Mpumalanga-Independent Thokozani Mazibuko 50% ANC 43% (87%) EFF 7% (8%)

This was the upset of the night and will certainly rank as one of the election upsets of the year. Former ANC councillor Thokozani Mazibuko resigned his seat and stood as an independent against his old party. There are two voting districts in this ward, with the ANC carrying the one voting district, and Mazibuko the other. The difference was that there was a considerably higher percentage turn-out in the voting district carried by Mazibuko and this enabled him to carry the ward by over 140 votes.  The loss of the seat sees the ANC now holding out of the 21 seats in the municipality. The remaining seats are held by the DA (2), EFF (1), IFP (1) and Mazibuko (1). Premier David Mabuza had a lot going for him. His province was allocated many delegates for the ANC Conference in December, and he was seen as the king-maker. Two of his allies from Mpumalanga also did very well out of the recent cabinet reshuffle. This by-election setback should see his detractors question whether he has really unified the ANC in Mpumalanga.

Ward 10 in Ray Nkonyeni (Nzimakwe) in KZN ANC 75% (89%) IFP 20% (3%) EFF 3% (4%)

Ray Nkonyeni is a new municipality which came into being after the 2016 by elections when Hibiscus Coast and Ezinqoleni municipalities were merged. It is in southern KZN on the South Coast and includes towns like Port Shepstone and Margate. Ward 10 is an inland ward between Glenmore Beach and Southbroom.

The ANC had a landslide victory here buts its percentage fell from the high-80s to the mid-70s. The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) had a good showing, finishing second with 20% of the vote. It seems that if the IFP were spurred on by their bitter rival-the National Freedom Party (NFP) contesting here. It was a disappointing showing by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the NFP. Southern KZN is an area where they could be more competitive than the IFP, but both parties got less than a hundred votes in this by election last night. Turn-out was an encouraging 52%.

Ward 28 in Ray Nkonyeni (Gamalakhe) in KZN ANC 91% (97%) EFF 8% (1% PR)

Ward 28 is an inland, rural ward in Ray Nkonyeni which sits above the town of Margate. This is an ANC stronghold. While there was a slight dip in their percentage returns last night, getting just over 90% of the vote, the ANC will be more than satisfied with the trust and loyalty of the voters of this ward. The EFF had a credible showing here, getting 8% of the vote. They did not put up a ward candidate here in 2016 and finished far ahead of the third placed IFP. Turn-out was 46%.

Ward 2 Richmond (Ndaleni Siyathuthuka) ANC 96% (85%) EFF 4% (9%)

This by-election took place because the previous ward councillor Sifiso Mkhize was assassinated. The ward lies next to the town of Richmond, deep in the ANC heartland of southern-KZN. This was the ANC’s best showing of the night, leaving the EFF and the IFP to pick up meagre scraps. Turn-out was 42%.

Ward 12 in Mangaung (Mangaung Phase 3) in the Free State. ANC 69% (86%) DA 19% (4%) EFF 6% (9%) Independent-Kennedy Mzaka 6%

This was the only ward contested in a metro on Wednesday. The ward is on the outskirts of Bloemfontein in the south-eastern part of the city. An independent candidate contested here. Kennedy Mzaka is an ANC supporter and backs Cyril Ramaphosa to be the next leader of the ANC. The ANC will be slightly concerned by their fall in support here last night. The DA finished third here in 2016 and will be encouraged by their second place and that their candidate got just under 20% in the by-election. The EFF will be disappointed with their returns in this Metro ward. They finished just ahead of the Independent candidate. Turn-out was 42%.

Ward 1 in Tswaing (Witpan Deelpan) in the North West. ANC 74% (71%) EFF 26% (20%)

This is a rural ward which lies next to the town of Sannieshof. It is also not far from Delareyville. Over the past few days Delareyville has seen violent service delivery protests aimed at the Tswaing Municipality. The EFF would have hoped for a spill over of resentment and anger towards the ANC and those who rule Tswaing but they fell well short last night. While the EFF did increase their percentage share of the vote, and were able to carry two tiny voting districts, they still made no real inroads into the ANC’s support here. The ANC was also able to increase its percentage share of the vote in Ward 1. This is a fine result for Premier Supra Mahumapelo and the political leaders of Tswaing. Turn-out was 51%.

It was mostly positive for the ANC. Southern KZN remains rock-solid, and the result in Tswaing will allow the party to say that the protesters in the municipality are not a reflection of the faith the voters have in the ANC. The ANC will be bitterly disappointed at losing a ward to an independent in Mpumalanga. It will be interesting to see who the independent caucuses with, as he comes from the ANC. The ANC will also reflect on their decreased returns in the Mangaung metro. It was a poor night for the EFF. They had a major opportunity to capitalise on dissatisfaction in Tswaing but were not able to do so, and did not get more than 10% of the vote in any of the other by elections. One has to again question their strategy of contesting every single by-election. While the IFP barely registered votes in two of the three KZN by elections, they will be satisfied with getting 20% of the vote in the one Ray Nkonyeni by-election. They struggle in southern-KZN and this would give them some motivation. The DA will be happy with their showing in Mangaung. They had real growth in the by election here. It was another poor showing for the NFP. The party continues to struggle, and they must be dreading the 2019 elections. DM

Photo: African National Congress (ANC) supporters brandish t-shirts showing South African President Jacob Zuma as they celebrate during a pre-election rally in Bekkersdal near Johannesburg, South Africa, 06 May 2014. Photo: EPA/KIM LUDBROOK

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