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Christmas comes early for the ANC in Oudtshoorn and Bus...

South Africa


Christmas comes early for the ANC in Oudtshoorn and Bushbuckridge, but it loses a seat to a new party in the Overberg

Mount Pleasant in the foreground, separated from Zwelihle in the distance by the rubbish-dump hill known as ‘Marikana’. (Photo: Angus Begg)

The ANC won three seats off the Better Residents’ Association in Bushbuckridge in Mpumalanga and two seats off the DA in Oudtshoorn. The party was not able to retain all its seats in the by-elections on Wednesday, since it lost one in the traditional stronghold of Zwelihle outside Hermanus in the Overberg, to a local party called LAND.

Western Cape


In 2016, the DA won an outright majority in the town, taking 14 of the 25 seats on the council. It was not beholden to small parties. However, the relationship between the party and its number-one citizen in Oudtshoorn, Mayor Colan Sylvester, soured, with Sylvester eventually resigning. Chris Mcpherson was elected as his replacement. Three ward councillors who were aligned to the former mayor quit the DA. This meant the party lost its outright majority, while those vacancies remained unfilled. Mcpherson and the DA crafted a coalition with a regional party, the Independent Civic Organisation of South Africa (ICOSA), and a local party, the South African Religious Civic Organisation (SARCO).

All three councillors who resigned represented marginal seats and two of those wards are areas that voted for the ANC on the provincial ballot in 2019. The three councillors also stood as independents in the by-elections.

Ward 4 (Bridgeton Bongolethu): DA 43% (44%) ANC 42% (41%) Ind-Fortuin 7% GOOD 6% EFF 1% Ind-Nyuka 1% 

Ward 4 is east of the town centre. It has two distinct parts to it. The bulk of the voters cast their ballots in Bongolethu, with more than 70% of the registered voters in this ward. In 2016, the DA beat the ANC by 53 votes there. However, in 2019 on the provincial ballots in the voting districts making up this ward, the ANC received 88 more votes than the DA. This was always going to be close. The DA won by 16 votes and prevented the ANC from winning a clean sweep in Oudtshoorn by the narrowest of margins. The ANC won in Bongolethu by a large margin in 2019, but the DA ran it close in this by-election, losing by fewer than a 100 votes. The turnout was lower in Bridgeton, the DA stronghold, but the party was still able to win by a significant margin to retain the ward. 

Former DA ward councillor Ewa Fortuin ran as an independent but came a distant third. She was endorsed by the former mayor but finished way off the pace. GOOD came fourth. 

Turnout was 38% (48%).

Ward 5 (Bridgeton Smartie Town): ANC 34% (27%) DA 26% (36%) Ind-Bezuidenhout 15% GOOD 13% Ind-Van Niekerk 9% Ind-Ruiters 2%. EFF 1% (2%) 

Ward 5 is also east of the city centre near the N12 road linking the town with De Rust. This is the ward the DA would have been most confident about retaining.

Hendrik Ruiters, a former ANC councillor, won the ward as the DA candidate in 2016, with the party receiving 686 votes and the ANC 515. ICOSA had a strong showing with 423 votes, but did not stand in the 2020 by-election. 

In 2019, the DA won by a wider margin in this ward when one considers the provincial ballots, beating the ANC by just fewer than 340 votes. 

The ANC won both voting districts in the by-election, beating the DA by 111 votes. It increased its percentage vote share in the ward, compared with 2016, while the DA lost ground. Hendrik Ruiters, the former DA ward councillor, finished a dismal sixth in the by-election. Arthur Bezuidenhout, endorsed by the Independents for Oudtshoorn movement, came third with 15% of the vote. GOOD finished fourth in this by-election. Little-known independent Adriaan Van Niekerk finished well ahead of Ruiters. 

The ANC will be very happy with this result. Of its five ward wins in these by-elections this would have been the sweetest. 

Ward 10 (Dysseldorp): ANC 41% (36%) GOOD 27% DA 21% (43%) Ind-Soman 8% EFF 3% (4%)

Dysseldorp is between Oudtshoorn and De Rust on the N12 national road, more than 20km from Oudtshoorn. 

The DA won here by 167 votes in 2016, but the ANC won by 177 on the provincial ballot of the two voting districts. The ANC carried both districts in 2019. The party would have studied the by-election map and seen this as its best chance.

The ANC delivered on that expectation and beat GOOD by more than 240 votes. GOOD got 7% in Dysseldorp in 2019, which was better than what they achieved in wards 4 and 5. It had strong growth here in the by-election, leaving the DA resigned to third place and ending on 21% of the vote. Worryingly for the DA, it lost a lot of support in Dysseldorp. Former DA ward councillor Nellie Soman finished fourth with 10% of the vote. She performed better than the other former DA ward councillors.  

Turnout was 44% (60%).

The DA has now lost its outright majority in Oudtshoorn. It has no choice but to continue its coalition with SARCO (one seat) and/or ICOSA (two). ICOSA works with the ANC in nearby Kannaland (Ladismith). The DA is in a precarious position now. 

The new council composition is DA 12 (14) ANC 9 (7) ICOSA 2 SARCO 1 EFF 1. Total: 25 seats.

GOOD will be happy with its showing in Dysseldorp, but it would have wanted to do better in wards 4 and 5 and continue from the platform created on Super Wednesday in nearby George. 

The ANC had a pitiful showing in Oudtshoorn in 2016. After the latest by-elections it will believe it has a chance of reclaiming power in Oudtshoorn in 2021. 

Former mayor Colan Sylvester did not have a good night. His three allies and former colleagues finished behind GOOD in every race and did not cause any significant stirs in the three races. 

Overberg Region

Ward 12 (Zwelihle Hermanus) in Overstrand: LAND 56% ANC 36% (89%) DA 5% (6%) EFF 3% (4%)

Zwelihle is southwest of Hermanus, next to the town of Sandbaai between the R43 regional road and the ocean. Overstrand is part of the Overberg district of the province. Its seat of power is in Hermanus and includes the towns of Kleinmond and Gansbaai. 

Considering the 2016 election results here, this ward seemed extremely safe for the ANC. It got close on 90% of the vote. However, in 2019, LAND got 220 more votes than the ANC on the provincial ballot, ending up with more than half of the votes cast in this ward. The ANC’s percentage vote share fell from 89% in 2016 to 43% in 2019. 

LAND had an open primary for this by-election. This meant that any voter, regardless of party affiliation, could decide which of LAND’s candidates should represent the party in the by-election. 

It ended up beating the ANC by 290 votes in the by-election. It now has its first elected representative in Overstrand, and its first elected representative in South Africa – a breakthrough moment. 

The new Overstrand council composition is DA 16 ANC 7 (8) LAND 1 (0) EFF 1. Total: 25. 

Turnout was 38% (58%).


There were two other Western Cape by-elections. The DA struggled in Ward 9 (Ashton) in Langeberg against the ANC. The latter won one of the voting districts in the ward off the DA. The DA beat the ANC by 194 votes but they its percentage vote share fall from 60% to 42% as the ANC more than doubled its share, from 13% to 30%. With this win, the DA retains outright control of Langeberg (Robertson). 

Turnout was 46% (57%).

Green Point CBD

The DA easily held Ward 115 (Green Point CBD) in Cape Town. Turnout was woeful as only 12% (60%) of the registered voters showed up. The DA won 82% (84%) of the vote, while Al-Jamah finished second with 7%. Al-Jamah got 25% of the Salt River vote. GOOD was third with 5% and the EFF beat the ANC to fourth place.


There were five by-elections in Mpumalanga on Wednesday, all in the Ehlanzeni district, which includes the capital, Nelspruit. 


Bushbuckridge is north of Nelspruit and Hazy View. The ANC won 53 of the 76 available seats here in 2016. The Bushbuckridge Residents’ Association (BRA) came second with 14 seats. BRA renamed itself as the Better Residents’ Association (BRA) to broaden its appeal beyond Bushbuckridge.

The by-elections were held because BRA expelled three of its ward councillors. None of the former BRA ward councillors contested their seats for another party or as independents. BRA did not contest the by-elections. It conceded these ward seats without even putting up a by-election fight. 

Ward 16 (Acorn Hoek Arthur’s Seat): ANC 72% (37%) EFF 18% (2%) DA 10% 

Ward 16 is south-west of Acornhoek, on the R40 road linking Limpopo with Bushbuckridge. BRA beat the ANC by 963 votes in 2016, but the ANC flipped the script in 2019, getting 60% of the vote on the provincial ballots in the voting district making up this ward. BRA’s percentage vote share halved as it garnered 29% of the vote. 

The ANC picked up this ward by a landslide in the by-election and came close to doubling its percentage vote share. BRA won almost 60% of the vote in 2016. Its decision to not take part in the by-election left a major void and the ANC was the main beneficiary of that decision. 

Turnout was 30% (62%). 

Ward 18 (Acorn Hoek Green Valley): ANC 84% (43%) EFF 16% (2%)

This ward is in the centre of Acornhoek, on the Mpumalanga border with Limpopo, by the R40 regional road. BRA beat the ANC here by 458 votes in 2016. However, its support fell sharply in 2019 as the ANC beat it by close on 1,500 votes on the provincial ballot. 

The new ANC councillor is Grinios Sebatane, who hails from BRA but was too low on the list in 2016 to be elected to council. 

The ANC won more than 80% of this ward to take it from BRA. Again, it was the chief beneficiary of BRA sitting out the by-election. 

Turnout was very low – only 15% (59%) of registered voters showed up. 

Ward 32 (Zoeknog Casteel): ANC 68% (36%) EFF 32% (7%).

Ward 32 is south-west of Casteel near the R40 regional road linking Casteel with Bushbuckridge. 

BRA had a good win here in 2016 but its fortunes nosedived in 2019 as ikts percentage vote share fell to 14%. The ANC won every voting district on the provincial ballot in 2019, with more than 60% of the vote. It received 1,340 more votes than BRA.  

Considering the three Bushbuckridge by-elections, this is where the EFF did the best, with more than 30% of the vote. The ANC will be over the moon that it won three out of three Bushbuckridge by-elections, and that the official opposition in Bushbuckridge-BRA seems in tatters. These are good signs for the party on the Bushbuckridge road to 2021.

Turnout was 25% (58%). 

The new Bushbuckridge council composition is ANC 56 (53) BRA 11 (14) EFF 4 DA 3 APC 2. Total: 76 seats. 

There were two other by-elections in Mpumalanga, both in Nkomazi (Malalane), an ANC stronghold. The ANC held Ward 5 in Siboshwa with 79% (91%) of the vote. The EFF came second with 11% (7%) and the African Transformation Movement (ATM) received a credible 10%. Turnout was 22% (59%). The ANC also held Ward 15 (Mgobodi Mawewe) in Nkomazi. It won 86% (76%) of the vote, with the DA second with 7% (17%) and the EFF third with 7% (6%). Turnout was 27% (54%).


There were three by-elections in Ekurhuleni. The DA had to defend two safe seats and the ANC had to defend a competitive seat.

Ward 27 (Benoni Northmead Rynfield) in Ekurhuleni: DA 74% (92%) VF+ 20% (2%) Ind-Steyn 4% ANC 2% (4%). 

Ward 27 is a Benoni ward in the suburbs, north-east of the Benoni town centre. In 2016, the DA ran up the numbers here. However, the Freedom Front + (VF+) got 12% of the vote on the provincial ballot in 2019, while the DA’s percentage vote share fell to 77%. The former DA ward councillor defected to GOOD and then to the ANC. Jacques Meiring stood as the ANC candidate in the by-election. Herman Mashaba endorsed Audrey Steyn, an independent candidate.

Much of the attention was on Meiring and Steyn but it was the VF+ that had a solid second-place finish in this by-election. The DA will remain concerned about the growth of the VF+ in Ekurhuleni, but will be satisfied that its former ward councillor did not hurt the party and that Mashaba’s first electoral foray into Ekurhuleni was not successful. 

Turnout 26% (72%).

Ward 28 (Benoni Farramere Lakefield): DA 79% (91%) VF+ 12% (2%)  Ind-Haggard 6% ANC 3% (6%)

This ward is north and west of the town centre. This is another safe DA seat in Ekurhuleni. Its losses were not as pronounced here in 2019 as they were in Ward 27. Malanie Haggard, the former DA ward councillor, ran as an independent. She was up against Mary Goby, the former DA ward councillor in this ward who lost out to Haggard in 2016 in the DA candidate selection process. Mashaba also endorsed Haggard. The ANC, VF+ EFF were also on the ballot. 

The DA lost some ground to the VF+ and Haggard. While the VF+ will be concerned about the losses, it will be happy that Mashaba and Haggard did not have a big impact on the result. 

Turnout was 28% (69%). 

Ward 42 (Ramaphosa Elspark): ANC 41% (44%) DA 38% (37%) EFF 19% (15%) AIC 2%. 

Ramaphosa is close to Reiger Park on the edge of Boksburg, bordering Germiston. The ward also includes Elsburg which is south of Ramaphosa, on the other side of the N17 highway, next to Wadeville and Klippoortjie. 

This was a tight contest in 2016, with the ANC prevailing by just more than 700 votes. The margin was much higher in 2019, with the ANC getting just under 2,720 votes more than the DA. The ANC got 49% of the vote in 2019 on the provincial ballot, with the DA on 27% and the EFF remaining on 15%. 

The bulk of the votes were cast in Ramaphosa. The ANC has traditionally won here by a large margin, with the EFF second. Elsburg has also been more positively disposed to the DA in the past, but is more competitive. 

Klippoortjie makes the ward less competitive as the ANC tends to win by a handsome margin here. It pipped the DA by 89 votes in this by-election. Klippoortjie made the ward less competitive in 2016 and proved to be the difference in the by-election. 

The DA ran up the numbers in Elspark and Elsburg, with the ANC battling in Ramaphosa. The EFF ate into that ANC support, winning 35% of the vote in one of the Ramaphosa voting districts and just under 30% in another. The challenge for the EFF and in turn the DA was that both were outgunned by the ANC in Klippoortjie. The 117 vote margin for the ANC was enough to overcome the DA’s edge in Elspark and Elsburg over the ANC in Ramaphosa. 

Turnout was 20% (59%).

 Northern Cape

As on Super Wednesday, the high-stakes by-elections continued in the largest province as power could have changed hands in both municipalities. 

Ward 3 (Steynville Hopetown) in Thembelihle: ANC 53% (56%PR) EFF 36% (10% PR) Ind-Madekane 5% Ind-Oliphant 3% Ind-Louw 3% 

Thembelihle is a small municipality in the Pixley Ka Seme district, which includes the towns of Hopetown, Strydenburg and Orania. 

Steynville is a part of Hopetown which lies between the N12 national road, linking the town with Kimberley, and the R369 regional road connecting the town with Orania. The ward is a few kilometres from the Orange River. 

The ANC had a crucial hold here to retain outright control of Thembelihle, but was given a fright by the EFF, especially in the one Steynville voting district. The EFF more than tripled irts percentage vote share in the ward. The three independent candidates were well off the mark. 

The DA was second here in 2016, but did not contest. 

Turnout was 54% (64%)

Ward 3 (Groblershoop) in !Kheis: ANC 52% (52%) Ind-Vries  45% (29%) Ind-Smith 3%

!Kheis is in the ZF Mgcawu District of the Northern Cape in the Green Kalahari. Its seat of power is in Groblershoop. 

Groblershoop sits where the N8 national road and the N10 national road connect. The N8 road allows the residents of Groblershoop to have a direct route to Griekwastad while the N10 connects it with Upington.

In 2013, Paul Vries, the former ANC councillor, ran as an independent for his Ward 3 seat in the by-election. He won it back and cobbled together a coalition with the opposition parties to wrest control from the ANC. The ANC won back control of !Kheis in 2016 and also won Ward 3. 

The ANC retained the ward by 108 votes. Vries won the largest voting district (Nuwe Hoop Sentrum) by 82 votes, but the ANC pipped him at Groblershoop High School, a DA stronghold. The turnout was very low in this district. Arguably, Vries could have won the by-election if he had done more to increase the DA voter turnout in the ward and persuaded them to back him and let the opposition take over !Kheis. 

The ANC got 85% of the vote at Uitsig School, the smallest district in the ward, winning by 189 votes. It retained outright control of the ward. 

Turnout was 63% (71%).

The ANC also retained seats in Raymond Mhlaba and Engcobo in the Eastern Cape, Dihlabeng and Mangaung in the Free State, Blouberg and Musina in Limpopo and Ratlou in North West. The DA retained its seat in eThekwini.

This was the last round of by-elections for 2020. By-elections resume on January 20 when the DA defends a marginal seat in Ekurhuleni, BRA defends another seat in Bushbuckridge and the IFP defends a safe seat in Nqutu. DM



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