South Africa

BY-ELECTION PREVIEW

Tricky challenge at ward polls for ANC, DA and EFF

There will be seven by-elections taking place in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday 19 May. (Photo: Gallo Images/Jacques Stander)

It has been more than 140 days since the last round of by-elections. There will be 15 in seven of the nine provinces on Wednesday, 21 April. The ANC will defend nine safe seats, while the DA and IFP will have two tricky assignments each.

This is the second of two preview articles looking at every ward being contested on 21 April. There will be three by-elections in the Western Cape, two in the Northern Cape and one each in North West and Limpopo.

Western Cape

There are three by-elections in this province, keenly contested by the DA and the ANC. There is a potential change of government in two of the municipalities.

Ward 20 (Delft South Eindhoven) in the City of Cape Town; DA (62%) ANC (30%) EFF (3%). Poll (58%).

The City of Cape Town has not been electorally kind to the ANC in recent elections. The ANC will think they have an outside chance in this by-election. The DA’s by-election performance has been anything but stellar of late, but the party will believe they are somewhat protected from the northern troubles in the Western Cape, especially Cape Town. Cape Town was the least interesting of the metros in 2016, with the DA outperforming the ANC in its urban strongholds of Mangaung and Buffalo City. 

The DA will, however, long for those heady 2016 days as they embark on their electoral journey in this local government election year. In 2016 they beat the ANC by a margin of more than two votes to one. It was closer here in 2019 on the provincial ballot as the DA got 51% of the vote and the ANC 33%. The DA lost votes in this ward to parties like GOOD and Al Jam-ah. 

Ward 20 is in the corner of Delft where the R300 road meets the N2. The DA runs up the numbers in Eindhoven and Voorburg and carries one of the two Delft voting stations. The ANC’s bedrock of support is in Delft South and the part of Delft where the factories are situated. 

The outsider in this by-election is the Cape Coloured Congress (CCC), which emanates from the Gatvol Capetonian movement. They will hope to appeal to disenchanted DA and ANC coloured voters in the ward. The EFF and another local party, The Greens, complete the field.

Ward 11 (Hornlee) in Knysna on the Garden Route; DA (42%) ANC (29%) EFF (13%) PBI (7%) ICOSA (6%). Poll (47%)

Knysna is part of the Garden Route District which includes George, Oudtshoorn and Plettenberg Bay.

Ward 11 is in Hornlee on the outskirts of Knysna, next to the N2 linking Knysna with Plettenberg Bay. Hornlee is one of the areas where COPE performed best in 2019. The party came second here on the provincial ballot in 2019. It is also from which COPE mayor Ricky van Aswegen draws most of his support. As in the last by-election in Hornlee, COPE have decided to sit it out. 

The DA had two difficult holds in safe seats in November in Knysna. Those victories gave the DA the numbers to take back control of Knysna with the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP). The days of the COPE/ANC/Knysna Unity Congress (KUC) governing coalition seemed numbered. The DA thought its days of dealing with errant Knysna councillors were over. Lorraine Opperman, the Hornlee ward councillor for the DA, elected after a by-election in December 2019, voted with the ANC in early January, resulting in the DA and the ACDP being unable to remove Van Aswegen from his position. 

Opperman has since defected to the ANC and will be its candidate in the by-election. The ACDP and EFF will battle it out for third place. The EFF will believe they have the upper hand as their percentage vote share grew from 3% to 13% in the 2019 by-elections. 

Incidentally, two regional parties, the Plaaslike Besorgde Inwoners (PBI) and the Independent Civic Organisation of South Africa (ICOSA), won a combined total of 13% in the 2019 by-election. They are off the ballot this time. The ANC will hope to draw those voters to its side. 

The current council composition has the ANC (eight seats), COPE (one seat) and the KUC (one seat) holding 50% of the filled seats. The DA have nine filled seats at the moment, with the ACDP holding one. If the DA retains the Hornlee ward the party will have 10 seats and will then be able to regain control of Knysna with the ACDP. 

Ward 4 (Kwa-Mandlenkosi Town Centre) in Beaufort West in the Central Karoo; ANC (57%) DA (37%) KDF (2%) EFF (2%). Poll (66%)

The Central Karoo District has fewer seats than any other district in South Africa. No party has outright control of any of the Central Karoo’s three local municipalities. Councils are small, and competition is fierce in Beaufort West, Prince Albert and Laingsburg. The DA and a local party, the Karoo Democratic Force (KDF), formed a coalition to govern Beaufort West after the 2016 local government elections. Things went sour with the DA and the KDF and the ANC returned to power with the KDF in Beaufort West.

The ANC won here by just under 400 votes in 2016 but they know the DA will throw everything at them to try to wrest back control of Beaufort West by winning this by-election. The ANC has six seats and the KDF one. The DA sits alone in opposition with six seats. 

The ANC carried the ward when one considers the 2019 provincial election results. The margin was reduced to 175 votes as the ANC got 47% and the DA 39%. This was mostly to do with the DA having a very large turnout in the town centre and the ANC battling to get its supporters out in Kwa-Mandlenkosi. 

The ANC will also have to contend with the Patriotic Alliance (PA) and an independent candidate. Truman Prince, the strongman of Beaufort West politics, ditched the ANC for Gayton Mckenzie’s PA. He is campaigning hard for the PA and their candidate in this by-election. The by-election was called after the ANC expelled ward councillor Sinki Matsoane for disobeying party instructions. Matsoane is running as an independent candidate and will hope to draw on his name recognition in Kwa-Mandlenkosi. 

The ANC has a demographic advantage in the ward but some of that could be wiped away by the PA and Matsoane, turning this into a thrilling contest. The EFF are also on the ballot here. 

Northern Cape

There are two by-elections in the largest province of South Africa. 

Ward 2 (Steinkopf Vioolsdrif) in Nama Khoi in Namakwa; ANC (43%) DA (40%) KR (11%) EFF (2%). Poll (57%)

The Namakwa District is the sparsest district in the least-populous province in South Africa. It includes Calvinia, Pofadder and Port Nolloth. Nama Khoi is one of three Northern Cape municipalities where the ANC does not have an outright majority and has to rely on coalition partners. In Nama Khoi, the ANC is in a coalition with the Khoisan Revolution (KSR). This is the only council in the Northern Cape where the party has a seat. The ANC and KSR have a majority of one. The DA are the official opposition and sit in the opposition with COPE who have one seat.

Nama Khoi’s seat of power is in Springbok. It also includes Kleinsee and Okiep. Ward 2 stretches from Steinkopf all the way to the border with Namibia, at Vioolsdrif. The largest proportion of voters are in Steinkopf. Steinkopf is north of Springbok on the N7 national road.

The ANC won this ward by 46 votes in 2016. Considering the 2019 provincial results, the ANC carried all three voting districts, receiving 171 more votes than the DA. Much of the ANC’s growth came at the expense of its coalition partner, the KSR. If the DA are able to win this ward, the party will approach COPE to take over the municipality from the ANC and KSR. 

The ANC will back itself to retain this ward as KSR are not on the ballot. The DA’s recruit, 7de Laan soap star and transgender candidate Deonay Balie, will hope she can get young voters to the polls on 21 April. The EFF and Andre Balie, an independent candidate, complete the field. 

Ward 2 (Bankhara Bodulong) in Ga-Segonyana, John Taolo Gaetsewe; ANC (81%) EFF (17%). Poll (61%)

The John Taolo Gaetsewe District borders North West and parts of Botswana. It includes towns such as Kathu and Mothibistad.

Ga-Segonyana is centred on the town of Kuruman. It is one of two Northern Cape municipalities where the EFF are the official opposition. Ward 2 is a safe ANC seat. The ward is in the Bankhara Bodulong township, northwest of Kuruman, just off the R31, above the Moffat Mission Station. The ANC and the EFF are the only two parties on the ballot. Both will want to exhibit growth in this by-election. 

North West

There is one by-election in the Platinum Province. 

Ward 40 (Segwaelane Sonop) in Madibeng, Bojanala; ANC (57%) DA (16%) EFF (14%) VF+ (5%). Poll (46%).

The Bojanala District is the most populous in the province. It encompasses much of the Platinum Belt. It includes big towns such as Rustenburg and Brits. Madibeng is centred on Brits. Madibeng is the second-largest council in the province. The ANC has 46 out of 81 seats, with the DA serving as the official opposition on 15 and the EFF on 14.

Ward 40 is west of Brits between Brits and Marikana. The Pansdrif part of the ward is northwest of Brits.  

Most voters are in the village of Segwaelane. There is also a voting station around the Eastern Platinum Mine near Marikana. Sonop and Pansdrif are where the highest concentration of DA and Freedom Front Plus (FF+) voters are. 

The ANC won comfortably here in 2016. The race for second place was more interesting, with the DA pipping the EFF for second spot in 2016. In the national and provincial elections in 2019, the EFF came second here on the provincial ballot, with the DA fending off the FF+, despite the FF+ winning the Pansdrif voting district and beating the DA in Sonop. The DA and the FF+ are both sitting out this by-election. It will be interesting to see how low the turnout will be in Pansdrif and Sonop. The EFF will hope that it can appeal to disenchanted mineworkers in this ward. The Abantu Batho Congress (ABC) is third on the ballot in Madibeng – a party with roots in Greytown, KwaZulu-Natal. 

Limpopo

There is one by-election in Limpopo in April.

Ward 15 (Sekgosese) in Greater Letaba, Mopani; ANC (73%) EFF (21%). Poll (52%)

The Mopani District includes towns such as Tzaneen, Hoedspruit and Phalaborwa. Its seat of power is the ANC stronghold of Giyani. The Greater Letaba municipality’s council chambers are in Modjadjiskloof. It also includes the town of Mooketsi. The ANC controls 46 out of 60 seats in the municipality. The EFF are the official opposition with nine.

Sekgosese is northwest of Mooketsi near the R436. It is a rural ward. This is a safe ANC seat. The EFF will aim for 30% of the ward vote, while the ACDP completes the list of parties contesting in this ward. 

Conclusion

The ANC will hope that it can win the Knysna ward from the DA and give the party a fright in Delft. It will also want two decisive holds in the marginal races in Beaufort West and Nama Khoi. It will also fancy itself to chalk up big wins against the EFF in the seats where the latter is their main challenger.

The DA knows the Delft race will be tougher than it was in 2016. It will want the result to be similar to the 2019 result. It will also hope its star recruit in Nama Khoi can propel it to an upset win in Steinkopf, and that it can retain the seat in Knysna and finally take back control of this Western Cape municipality. A split ANC vote in Beaufort West will allow it through the back door and win outright control of the largest municipality in the Central Karoo.

The EFF will look at Madibeng as its best opportunity to give the ANC a fright on Wednesday. It will also want to increase its percentage vote share in Greater Letaba, Knysna and Ga-Segonyana. DM

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