South Africa

2021 Elections KwaZulu-Natal

DA wins all wards in Phoenix, site of contentious election posters

Democratic Alliance election posters erected on Phoenix Highway sparked outrage and were subsequently removed. (Photo: Mandla Langa)

Despite a cloud of controversy stemming from the Democratic Alliance's campaign in the area, the party appears to have successfully wooed a large proportion of the electorate.  

The Democratic Alliance has retained the four wards it controls in Phoenix, under the eThekwini Metro, and added one more, giving it a five-out-of-five win in the area. 

This is despite the outcry on many media platforms following the party’s controversial posters referring to the deadly July riots that were erected in the predominantly Indian area just days before the local government polls. 

Those riots led to the deaths of 36 people — most of them black Africans, thus stirring up racial tensions. Several matters pertaining to these murders are currently in court.   

By Wednesday, it was confirmed that the party had taken Ward 52, which it lost in 2016. Back then, the ANC claimed 4,610 votes to the DA’s 4,409 in the ward. 

As yet unreleased figures show that the DA garnered 4,223 votes in Ward 52 on Monday, with the ANC obtaining 1,221. 

The EFF also increased its showing in this ward, raking in 476 votes. In 2016, it had managed only 288. 

The remainder of the votes belongs to smaller parties.  

The DA’s success in Ward 52 has been attributed to Samier Singh, who was brought in as a PR councillor in 2016. According to Phoenix residents that Daily Maverick spoke to, Singh’s strength was his “visibility” and “working with residents”. 

Singh told Daily Maverick that the party’s election posters had not affected residents, who were “more worried about having a better life”. 

“Since I started as a PR councillor I have been on the ground in full force. It is a great feeling to have taken the ward by such a big margin,” said Singh. 

DA eThekwini caucus leader, Nicole Graham, told Daily Maverick that Singh was “a really great councillor who was known in the community and had done the work”. 

“The community clearly made its choice in favour of councillor Singh,” she said. 

“The DA now holds all five wards in Phoenix and all five of the main wards in Chatsworth (another traditionally Indian area). What I think this shows is that despite all of the noise that has been generated in this election, people know the work of the DA, that they believe the DA represents them, and that they think that the DA is the only alternative. Our job now is to not let those people down.” 

But according to former Ward 52 ANC councillor Boxer Zulu, the ANC had actually “won” because it had been campaigning under trying circumstances. 

Several areas that fell under Ward 52 were moved to Ward 54 in 2020 via the Demarcation Board. Zulu told Daily Maverick that this was where “about 60% of my vote had come from”. 

“I felt like a wounded lion [in this election]. I was the only African against about a 90% Indian community. So under those circumstances, I [got a good result].”

He said his loss had “nothing to do with service delivery”. 

“Phoenix is well serviced, it is just an issue of maintenance.” 

Zulu said low voter turnout had also affected the ward, as had the July riots. 

“There has not been a lot of trust here since that. Before that it was fine, but now we are like two nations — Indians and blacks.” DM

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All Comments 7

  • – “I felt like a wounded lion [in this election]. I was the only African against about a 90% Indian community. So under those circumstances, I [got a good result].”

    And with comments like these, it seems the DA’s posters were right.

    -“Phoenix is well serviced, it is just an issue of maintenance.”

    Oh didn’t realise that maintenance was not part of service delivery…

  • Given that I know some people with family in Phoenix and helped send them essentials like nappies and basic foods immediately after the invasion on their community, I think the DA posters, direct as they were, reflected the mood on the ground. If you weren’t there or didn’t have friends and family there then you have no right to proclaim on what happened.

  • In my personal experience, being part of a community crime watch group in the Whetstone area, there was no support from Boxer and many calls made to him (street lights not working, incidents of crime on the rise.. etc. ) went unanswered. Samier Singh was the only person who came forward to assist the community and did his best to help us. He wasn’t even the ward councillor then, but he was there…

  • ‘Phoenix is well-serviced, its just an issue with maintenance’. This sentence made my day! Thank you, had a good giggle. Best excuse I’ve heard in years!

  • So it seems that all the mass “outrage” caused by the DA posters put up in Phoenix, did not have much effect on the ground, as in fact the party retained 4 wards , and gained another!