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OCTOBER BY-ELECTIONS

DA doctor beats mayor Farmer in Cederberg, while IFP flips the script in southern KwaZulu-Natal

DA doctor beats mayor Farmer in Cederberg, while IFP flips the script in southern KwaZulu-Natal
John Hayes won the by-election for the Democratic Alliance in Lambert Bay by-elections. (Photo: Brenton Geach)

The DA withstood a strong challenge from the Patriotic Alliance in Lambert’s Bay to retain a ward and allow the party and its coalition partners to take back control of Cederberg. The IFP had its second successive stunning by-election victory in KwaZulu-Natal with a big upset win in uMuziwabantu.

Western Cape

Ward 5 (Lambert’s Bay) in Cederberg, West Coast: DA 46% (42%) PA 33% (8%) ANC 21% (26%) EFF <1% (<1%).

The setting: More than 90% of voters in this Cederberg ward are in the fishing town of Lambert’s Bay on the West Coast of the province. The French fries factory looms large in the town. It is a stone’s throw from the Cape Gannet magnet – Bird Island. This is the main tourist destination in the town, which is also known for its crayfish and snoek. The ward also includes the village of Leipoldtville, just more than 30km from Lambert’s Bay. It is in the heart of the Sandveld, in potato-farming country. The Cederberg municipality includes towns like Clanwilliam and Citrusdal. It is part of the West Coast District which also includes towns like Malmesbury, Piketberg, Saldanha Bay and Vanrhynsdorp (Matzikama). Cederberg and Matzikama are relatively rural when one considers the whole West Coast District.

Lambert’s Bay – a divided Western Cape town in the midst of a crucial by-election

The 2021 local government election: William Farmer was re-elected as councillor for Ward 5. In 2016, the DA beat the ANC and a local party in a competitive three-horse race. 2021 was also competitive, with the DA beating the ANC and new local party Cederberg Eerste (CE). The DA beat the ANC by just more than 420 votes. The DA won both of the Lambert’s Bay voting districts but fell to third place in the much smaller Leipoldtville district. This was carried by CE which finished in a credible third place in the ward with 17% of the vote. However, it underperformed in Lambert’s Bay when one considers the performance across the Cederberg. The Patriotic Alliance (PA) finished fourth, eating into the ANC’s support. The Freedom Front Plus (FF+) garnered 5% of the vote as it made a small dent in the DA’s support.

The local government elections saw the ANC finish first in Cederberg with 4/11 seats but it lost outright control of Cederberg and in turn was relegated to the opposition benches. CE won three seats, the DA two and the FF+ one. The PA also won a seat. The CE (3), DA (2) and FF+ (one) formed a coalition with Dr Ruben Richards of CE getting the mayoral chain, and William Farmer becoming the speaker, a role he served in during part of the previous term of local government.

The by-election: A motion of no confidence was passed against mayor Richards after he was accused of corruption and fraudulent activity. The motion succeeded because of the support of one DA councillor – Cederberg speaker and Ward 5 councillor Farmer. His vote gave the ANC and the PA the numbers to topple the mayor and the deputy mayor and elect a new speaker. Farmer was voted in as the new mayor of Cederberg. The ANC took the speaker position and the PA saw its councillor elected as deputy mayor. Farmer was expelled by the DA for voting with the opposition and scuppering the coalition deal with the CE and FF+.

Patriot Alliance leader Gayton McKenzie attended Wednesday’s by-election to support his party’s candidate. (Photo: Brenton Geach)

Dr Ruben Richards,the former mayor of Cederberg municipality. Richards was mayor from 2021 until a July 2022 council sitting removed him via a motion of no confidence .Photo Brenton Geach

Farmer defected to the PA and agreed to stand for election again in the ward he knows so well. The DA fielded well-known town doctor and businessperson JP Hayes. Doctors are few and far between in this part of the Western Cape. There is a good chance that a sizeable chunk of voters in this by-election were delivered by Hayes. What makes this by-election unique is that another key candidate also defected. The ANC’s Beverly van der Heever-Schalk was the CE candidate in November. The ANC would have hoped that she would not only bring the ANC voters who voted for the CE in 2021, but also some of the DA voters who voted for the CE. The EFF completed the field. Gwede Mantashe, Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma, Helen Zille and Gayton McKenzie were seen in the ward before the by-election.

This was the third significant Western Cape by-election in a row where the former ward councillor ran for another party. The DA won by-elections with the former PA councillor as its candidate in Matzikama (Vanrhynsdorp) and in Prince Albert, with the former mayor and local party councillor as their candidate. William Farmer was unable to do what the other defectors did. He fell short in a valiant effort to win back his ward as a candidate for a different party.

Read in Daily Maverick: “Music blasts in Prince Albert by-election, but voters have jobs on their minds

The DA carried all three voting districts in the ward, including Leipoldtville where it finished third in 2021. The contest was spirited in every voting district, with the DA unable to win in excess of 50% at any of the voting districts. The party matched its 2021 showing at the smaller Lambert’s Bay voting district, winning 48% of the vote again, with the PA surging from 11% to 37%. The ANC fell from 22% to 13% at the Don Burrell Centre. 

At the Lambert’s Bay Recreation Centre on Main Road, the DA made slight gains by increasing its vote share from 41% to 44%, with the PA showing a big improvement from 7% to 31%. The ANC’s decline here was not as stark as it was at Don Burrell as it went from 27% to 24%. The absence of CE on the ballot was felt mainly in Leipoldtville. This district was carried by CE in the local government elections. All three major competitors increased their vote share there. 

Lazy analysis would suggest that the FF+ vote went to the DA and the PA picked up the CE voters and a decent chunk of ANC voters. It is more complicated than that. The DA would have probably gained the FF+ voters and a good portion of CE voters, while some DA voters would have followed Farmer to the PA in this by-election, with respective slices of CE and ANC voters as well. 

The DA has now won three consequential Western Cape by-elections in a row. This will give the party’s activists confidence that it is on track in the province for the 2024 elections. 


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This is a strong statement from the PA. It will use this result to illustrate that it is the best-positioned party to lead an alternative government to the DA in the Western Cape in 2024. 

The win for the DA means the status quo from the local government elections is recreated. CE (three seats), the DA (two) and FF+ (one) will take back control of Cederberg, as they have a majority over the ANC (four) and the PA (one). Dr Ruben Richards from CE will be elected mayor, with the FF+ likely to get the deputy mayor position back and the DA getting the speaker position. 

Turnout: 71% (61%).

Ward 5 (Edgemead, Bothasig): DA 92% (88%) ACDP 7% (3%) EFF < 1% (1%) ARA <1% (<1%).

The setting: This is the ward Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis comes from. Ward 5 is north of the city centre and includes Edgemead, which is a garden city suburb, Bothasig and Burgundy Estate. It sits between the N1 and N7 national roads and is near the foothills of the Tygerberg Hills.

Cape Town Mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis wants to shift approach on homelessness from law enforcement to care intervention

Geordin Hill-Lewis, Cape Town’s mayor, grew up in Edgemead. (Photo: Leila Dougan)

The 2021 local government election: The DA won here by a landslide but dipped below the 90% mark as the party lost some market share to the FF+ and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP). This is the ward where the ACDP performed best in Cape Town in 2021.

The by-election: The previous ward councillor resigned. The ACDP, the EFF and an ACDP breakaway party, the African Restoration Alliance, completed the field.

Read in Daily Maverick: “DA and IFP retain seats in latest round of local polls, despite a big fright from ANC

The DA went back above the 90% mark as it won the by-election by a landslide. It received more than 90% of the vote in the three Edgemead voting districts and the district around Burgundy Estate. The ACDP won more than 10% of the vote in the two Bothasig districts, which meant that the DA’s support dipped below 90% here. 

Turnout: 25% (62%)

KwaZulu-Natal

Ward 11 (Harding, Esikhulu) in uMuziwabantu, Ugu: IFP 53% (6%) Sizwe Ummah Nation 23% ANC 16% (27%) EFF 3% (7%) ABC 2% (2%) ATM 1% (2%) Al Jama-ah 1% (52%)

The setting: Ward 11 was a new ward formed for the 2021 local government elections. It has two voting districts. Most voters are in the small town of Harding. It abuts the N2 national road which links Port Shepstone with Kokstad. Harding was hard hit by the unrest in July 2021 and many shops were looted. The other voting district is centred on the village of Esikhulu which is south of Harding towards the Eastern Cape border. The seat of power in uMuziwabantu is in Harding. uMuziwabantu is an inland municipality and its most well-known landmark is the Mzimkulwana Valley. It forms part of the Ugu district which includes the coastal towns of Port Shepstone, Scottburgh and Hibberdene.

The 2021 local government election: The ANC won 70% of the seats in the 2016 election. The party lost its outright majority in uMuziwabantu after the results were tallied for the local government election in 2021. One of the reasons it lost its outright majority was Ward 11 where Al Jama-ah shocked the ANC by beating it by a margin of almost 2:1. Al Jama-ah won both voting districts in the ward. It beat the ANC by more than 380 votes in Harding. It was closer in Esikhulu, with Al Jama-ah getting 85 more votes than the ANC. The ANC’s vote share in the voting districts that make up Ward 11 declined from 61% to 27% when comparing the 2021 result with 2016’s.

The ANC won 10/21 seats and needed to find a coalition partner. The DA won the speaker position and Al Jama-ah saw Sheikh Mondli Ncane elected as deputy mayor. The ANC was able to get its candidate for mayor elected.

The by-election: The ANC ousted the DA speaker and replaced Ncane as deputy mayor with the Abantu Batho Congress (ABC) in June.

Ncane said he was not happy with Al Jama-ah’s working arrangement with the ANC and quit the party. He joined the Sizwe Ummah Nation (SUN) and put his name in the hat to win his seat back. The ANC and Al Jama-ah too were determined to win this seat. It was a crowded field which included the IFP, the ABC and the African Transformation Movement (ATM).

The IFP shocked Ncane, the ANC and Al Jama-ah in this by-election. Its vote share went from a paltry 6% to 53%, improving on the vote percentage achieved by Ncane in November. This dramatic rise in support was most evident in the town of Harding, one of the two voting districts in Ward 11. The IFP went from zero votes in 2021 to getting 843 in the by-election, which translated to 55% of the support in the district. Ncane and Sizwe Ummah Nation got 36% support here, with the ANC dropping from 25% to 19%. Al Jamah-ah was not at the races, falling from 56% to 1%. 

The IFP and Sizwe Ummah Nation (not on the ballot in November) won 0% of the vote in the Harding voting district in 2021. Less than a year later, these two parties combined won more than 80% in the town of Harding. 

In the village of Esikhulu, the IFP grew from 19% to 49%, with Ncane garnering 18% of the vote. The ANC fell from 25% to 11%, while Al Jamah-ah was all but wiped out, falling from 42% to 1%. 

The uMuziwabantu result is unprecedented as it was a multi-competitor by-election, where the party that finished first in the election, finished last in the by-election. Al-Jamah’s support totally collapsed here as it went from top of the podium to seventh place. 

This was not an ANC ward, but the result will worry the party. In 2016, it won 61% of the vote in the districts that make up this ward – last night its support fell to 16%. The interior of southern KwaZulu-Natal is ANC country. The party under Jacob Zuma steamrolled the opposition here. It fell to a distant third in this by-election. 

Read in Daily Maverick: “DA triumphs in Prince Albert nail-biter while IFP bucks trend to shock ANC in KZN

The IFP upset the apple cart in a recent uMhlathuze (Richards Bay) by-election. It has replicated this in far tougher terrain. The party has much momentum now and will want to continue giving the ANC pause for thought in the numerous KwaZulu-Natal by-elections before the end of the year. The one advantage for the ANC is that the IFP will also be defending super marginal seats and it will have the opportunity to win seats off the IFP. 

The new uMuziwabantu council composition looks like this: ANC 10 seats; IFP six (five); EFF two; Al Jama-ah one (two); ABC one; DA one. Total: 21. The ANC will continue to don the mayoral chain here with the support of the ABC. 

Turnout: 56% (52%).

The next by-election will be on 19 October when the ANC defends a safe seat in Nkomazi, Mpumalanga. DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • virginia crawford says:

    “The DA won both of the Lambert’s Bay voting districts but fell to third place in the much smaller Leipoldtville district. This was carried by CE which finished in a credible third place in the ward with 17% of the vote.” What does this mean? Very poor editing: numerous grammar mistakes that muddle the meaning. Glad to see the PA and ANC lose though.

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