Daily Maverick

DA take ward off ANC in Nala, while the ANC gets slightly decreased returns in Tshwane poll

The Democratic Alliance (DA) caused an upset in Nala on September 5 by winning a ward off the African National Congress (ANC) in this Free State municipality. The ANC had a solid hold, but with slightly decreased returns in a key Tshwane by-election. The ruling party lost ground to the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) in a safe ANC seat in Lekwa-Teemane in the North West, while the DA lost ground to the Vryheids Front + (VF+) in a DA stronghold in Ngwathe in the latest round of by-elections.

Ward 2 in Nala (Wesselsbron Monyakeng) in the Free State. DA 49% (28%) ANC 44% (49%) EFF 6% (5%)

Nala municipality is an ANC controlled municipality in the maize belt of the Free State. Its principal towns are Bothaville and Wesselsbron.

Ward 2 is centred around the town of Wesselsbron, and includes the township of Monyakeng and a tiny rural voting district. Even though the ANC won the ward by over 400 votes in 2016, it was still deemed a competitive ward as the ruling party was not able to win more than 50% of the vote. The VF+ came third here with 16% of the vote in 2016 and they decided to not contest here this time. If one had to simply add the DA’s percentage vote share of 28% to the 16% of the VF+, the ward looks marginal. The DA though had a double challenge, and that was to convert as many of the VF+ from 2016 as possible and at the same time increase their vote share in Monyakeng township, where the majority of the voters in the ward reside.

The DA overturned a 416 vote deficit and won here by 96 votes on Wednesday. This was achieved by getting approximately 70% of the voters who supported the VF+ in 2016, but at the same time significantly increasing their vote tally in the two Monyakeng voting districts. At the Letsibolo School voting district in Monyakeng, the ANC’s percentage vote share went down from 74% to 58%, with the ANC receiving 124 less votes compared to that of 2016, getting 524 votes this time round, down from the 648 they got in 2016. In contrast the DA more than doubled their vote tally, going up from 134 votes in 2016 to 278 votes last night, an increase from 15% to 31%.

The results were similar at the smaller voting district of the Baptist Church, but not as pronounced. The ANC’s percentage vote share went from 77% to 70%, receiving 264 votes as opposed to 271 in the previous election, but the DA went up from 12% to 21%, getting 81 votes, compared to the 42 they received here in 2016.

The VF+ got 40% of the vote at the Wesselsbron Public Library in 2016, attracting 311 votes. The DA got 59% of the vote at the Library in 2016, receiving 397 votes. On Wednesday the DA got 610 votes at the Library, getting 86% of the vote in the district. This was the only district where the ANC’s vote share went up. They got 84 votes (12%), 25 more votes than 2016. Turn-out in the by-election was an impressive 59%.

The DA and the ANC have gone toe to toe in three consecutive competitive by-elections where the contest has included small towns in rural areas, where the ward also contains a local township. In two of these by-elections, in the space of one month, the DA have won wards off the ANC. They will add this victory in Nala to their triumph over the ANC in a ward in Walter Sisulu (Burgersdorp) in the Eastern Cape in early August. The DA also increased their majority in the Siyancuma (Douglas) by-election in the Northern Cape a few weeks ago. This is a promising trend for the DA.

The ANC lose a seat on the Nala council. They now have 14 (15) out of the 24 seats. The EFF remain the official opposition here with five seats, but the DA now have four (three) councillors. The Vryheids Front + have one seat.

Ward 37 in Tshwane (Soshanguve South) in Gauteng. ANC 62% (66%) EFF 26% (23%) DA 11% (9%).

The Tshwane council had much media focus last week, with the DA Mayor Solly Msimanga dodging a vote of no confidence bullet. Msimanga and the DA took over Tshwane from the ANC in 2016 by forming a coalition with smaller opposition parties and getting outside support from the EFF. Soshanguve is an ANC stronghold in Tshwane. There was much interest in this by-election, but the actual voters in the ward did not share the interest of those election watchers and political analysts who do not reside in the ward. Turn-out was a low 27%.

While the ANC had a comfortable hold, they lost some ground to the EFF and the DA. The EFF was able to win over a quarter of the vote this time round. The ANC’s percentage vote share went down in 5 out of 6 voting districts. The ANC had increased their percentage vote share in all of the previous Gauteng township by-elections in 2018. This was the first time they lost ground, and were not able to increase their percentage vote share in a Gauteng township by-election.

Ward 12 in Ngwathe (Parys Tumahole) in the Free State. DA 62% (72%) VF+ 19% (7%) ANC 17% (19%) EFF 3% (2%).

Ngwathe municipality is an ANC controlled municipality in the Free State. Its main town is Parys. It also includes the towns of Heilbron, Koppies, Vredefort and Edenville. Ward 12 includes a large chunk of Parys and a part of the Tumahole township.

The DA lost ground to the VF+ in the DA strongholds on Wednesday. In 2016, the DA got between 88-89% of the vote in the two Parys voting districts. This fell to 74%-76% on Wednesday, with the VF+ percentage vote share increasing from 7-9% to 21-25%. The VF+ will be most encouraged by these returns.

While the DA’s percentage vote share went down its traditional strongholds, it leapfrogged the EFF for second place in the Tumahole voting district.

The two Free State results show some fluidity with regards to conservative white voters. In Nala, approximately 70% of the VF+ voters were willing to vote for the DA candidate, while in Ngwathe, voters were willing to lend their vote to the VF+ instead of the DA in a ward deemed safe from ANC control.

Turn-out was 44%.

Ward 7 in Lekwa-Teemane (Utlawanang Geluksoord) next to Christiana in the North West. ANC 74% (79%) EFF 26% (9%).

Lekwa-Teemane municipality is an ANC controlled municipality in the North West. Its principal towns are Bloemhof and Christiana. Ward 7 includes the communities of Utlawanang and Geluksoord which sit next to Christiana. This municipality borders the Northern Cape, and although the EFF are the official opposition in the municipality, it is a big distance from the EFF’s main area of support in the province-the platinum belt. If the EFF really want to make an impact on the province they need to do considerably better in municipalities like this one.

The DA came second here in 2016, but decided to not contest yesterday. Both the ANC and the EFF had a fair chance to increase their percentage support in the ward as there were only two parties contesting. The EFF more than doubled their vote tally and their percentage share of the vote went from 9% to 26%. The ANC were unable to capitalise on the small field and lost some ground here. This is best illustrated by the Utlawanang Community Hall voting district, where the ANC’s percentage vote share went from 79% in 2016 to 62%, while the EFF’s percentage vote share went from 9% up to 38%. Turn-out was 50%. DM

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