By-Elections

DA retain two wards and lose another to ANC in Bela-Bela

By Wayne Sussman 19 July 2018

The DA (Democratic Alliance) defended three seats this week, coming up short in a marginal ward in Bela Bela in Limpopo, but comfortably holding seats in Metsimaholo in Limpopo and Lekwa in Mpumalanga.

Ward 9 (Spa Park Radium Masakhane) in Bela-Bela in Limpopo ANC 48% (41%) DA 46% (49%) EFF 5% (7%) Cope 1%

The ANC (African National Congress) needed a 5% swing in this by- election to win the ward from the DA and triumphed here by 49 votes on Tuesday night. This is a diverse ward which has seven voting districts and includes a suburb of Bela-Bela-Spa Park, the rural settlement of Radium Masakhane, the plots and small holdings of Noodhulp, and the remote settlement of Vingerkraal, whereApartheid-era soldiers of the counter-insurgency Koevoet unit live.

The results were in the main similar to those of 2016. In the largest voting district of Spa Park, support for the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) collapsed from 13% to 3% as both the ANC and the DA seemed to benefit. The ANC and the DA both received more votes in this voting district than they did in 2016. Even though the DA’s vote share went up from 27% to 37% in the voting district, they did not close the gap sufficiently with the ANC to make up for its shortcomings elsewhere. The ANC’s vote share went up from 53% to 59%.

In the second largest voting district of Radium Masakhane, the ANC’s margin of victory was reduced from 178 votes to 104 votes, with the EFF affecting the ANC here by increasing their vote share from 2% to 12%.

In 2016, the DA turned out a huge proportion of voters from the Noodhulp area. Turn-out was again high here on Tuesday, but not high enough for the DA. Had the DA replicated the abnormally high turn-out in this area, they could have possibly held onto the ward. Even though turn-out was 60% in this district and the DA took 98% of the votes here, the DA received 104 less votes than they did in 2016.

The ward was won and lost in the third largest voting district of the ward, where the result was essentially the inverse of the 2016 result. It was a remarkable swing from the DA to the ANC. In 2016, the DA received 65% of the vote in this district, and the ANC received 29%, with the DA getting 86 more votes than the ANC. On Tuesday, the ANC got 69% of the vote, while the DA’s percentage vote share plummeted to 25%, with the ANC getting 105 more votes than the DA.

This isolated settlement is the bellwether of this diverse, multi-faceted ward. It played a critical role in electing a DA councillor in 2016, and on Tuesday it was the key reason for the ANC winning this ward. Turn-out in the by election was 43%.

The ANC now have 10 seats, the DA four, EFF two and the Bushbuckridge Residents Association have one.

Ward 10 (Standerton) in Lekwa in Mpumalanga DA 85% (74%) ANC 14% (16%) EFF 2% (3%).

The DA had a comfortable hold in this ward in Standerton, and increased their percentage share of the vote, while the other parties which contested here had slightly diminished returns. The party who came third with 6% in 2016, the African Independent Congress (AIC) did not contest this time. This result will give the DA encouragement as it was a convincing hold. Turn-out was 39%.

Ward 18 (Vaal Park Sasolburg) in Metsimaholo in the Free State DA 91% (83%) ANC 7% (6%) EFF 2% (2%).

The voters of Ward 18 went to the polls for the second time in eight-and-a-half months to elect a councillor for this ward. Turn-out was always expected to be muted. One also has to question why the Vryheids Front + (VF+) did not contest here on Wednesday. They came second with 8% in late 2017 and should have fancied their chances to make further inroads in this ward. The DA had a very easy hold here and will be happy with their margin of victory. Turn-out was 34%.

Next week the ANC will defend three wards. These include an ultra-marginal ward in Mthonjaneni in rural KwaZulu-Natal, a safe ward in politically turbulent Mafikeng in the North West and a safe ward in Nelson Mandela Bay. DM

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