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Sizzling upset – FF+ at fever pitch in the hot springs of Bela-Bela

Sizzling upset – FF+ at fever pitch in the hot springs of Bela-Bela
Archive Photo: A Freedom Front Plus (FF+) flag at the IEC's National Results Operations Centre (ROC) in Pretoria, 9 May 2019. Photo: Leila Dougan

The Freedom Front Plus caused a big upset in the town centre of Bela-Bela by winning over DA voters and sweeping all the districts for a significant victory, which suggests that the party is not done in attracting DA voters who have stood by the party for several consecutive elections.

The setting: This ward is in the heart of Bela-Bela. It includes the tourist destination, the Warmbaths Resort, known for its hot springs. Most of the voters in this municipality live in and around the town. The municipality extends to the Gauteng border. It is part of the Waterberg district which includes the towns of Modimolle, Thabazimbi, Lephalale and Mokopane. 

The local government elections: The results in the municipality were very similar to those of 2016. The only change was the DA losing a seat to the FF+. One of the reasons the FF+ picked up a seat was because of its showing in this ward. The FF+ did not contest in Bela-Bela in 2016. In the recent local government elections, it ate into the big DA majority here by winning more than a quarter of the vote. It won just under 50% of its total vote in the entire municipality in this one ward. This statistic is similar for the DA. Ward 1 is the bedrock of support for both parties in this municipality. 

The by-election: The ward councillor resigned. Both the DA and the FF+ fielded current proportional representation (PR) councillors as their candidates. The ANC and EFF were also on the ballot. 

Read in Daily Maverick: “EFF stuns ANC in Nkomazi with landslide victory and first win in Mpumalanga to date

PR councillor Jee-Dee Cloete ran a youthful and energetic campaign. It paid dividends as the FF+ swept all three voting districts and comfortably relegated the DA to second place in the ward. In the local government election in November, the DA won more than 60% of the vote in the district around Warmbad Primary School, with the FF+ winning 28%. In the by-election, the FF+ garnered 57%, while the DA fell to 34%. The turnout was highest in the district around the Warmbad NG Kerk. In November, the DA fell just shy of the 70% mark, and in the by-election fell to 42%, while the FF+ vote share climbed from 23% to 52%. 

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The biggest swing occurred in the smallest voting district in an area with a large number of plots. In November, the DA exceeded 70%, with the FF+ winning 28% of the percentage vote share. In the by-election, it was a FF+ landslide as the party won 82% of the vote and the DA fell from 70% to 17%. 

Read in Daily Maverick: “DA doctor beats mayor Farmer in Cederberg, while IFP flips the script in southern KwaZulu-Natal

The new council composition is ANC 10 DA 2 (3) FF+ 2 (1) EFF 2 Better Residents Association 1. Total: 17.

Poll: 42% (56%).

Next by-elections

The next round of by-elections will be on 23 November. The FF+ will hope to bring this momentum from the north of the country to a more secure DA terrain in Drakenstein (Northern Paarl) where the latter will defend a traditionally safe seat against a highly motivated FF+. We will also see what shape the ANC in the Western Cape is in with a by-election in Cape Town (Nyanga), where the party has historically run up the numbers. There are also three by-elections in Mpumalanga, with the ANC having to fend off the EFF and other candidates in parts of the province they would usually not lose much sleep over – Nkomazi (Kamaqhekeza) and Mkhondo (Entombe). The DA will be confident of a solid hold in Govan Mbeki (Trichardt). DM



Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • R S says:

    “The new council composition is ANC 10 DA 2 (3) FF+ 2 (1) EFF 2 Better Residents Association 1. Total: 17.”

    Why is there are entire article and clickbait title dedicated to this? One seat changed hands between the DA and FF+. Now when the ANC loses its 10 seats, maybe that will be worthy of a complete analysis.

  • Pet Bug says:

    Not following the previous two comments- Wayne is by far the most thorough writer on elections and his article here is informative and insightful.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


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