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ANC has strong showing but loses a seat to IFP in KZN contests

ANC has strong showing but loses a seat to IFP in KZN contests
(Photo: Gallo Images/Sharon Seretlo)

In an otherwise strong night for the ANC, where it won back two seats from independents and posted significant improvements in a rural KwaZulu-Natal and a rural Eastern Cape contest, the party lost a seat to the IFP in Mthonjaneni. The IFP had good returns in the two marginal seats it was defending. The DA had strong showings in a by-election in Tarkastad in the Eastern Cape and in Mogale City in Gauteng.


Ward 11 (Sindo Emkhoveni) in Maphumulo, iLembe: ANC 61% (48%) IFP 38% (39%) (EFF) 1% (3%)

The setting: The rural Ward 11 straddles the Hlimbitwa Stream and comprises numerous villages south of the eponymous Maphumulo, the seat of power in the municipality. Maphumulo is a municipality north of Durban and KwaDukuza. Most of it falls in tribal lands administered by the Ingonyama Trust. Its main thoroughfare is the R74 road which links KwaDukuza with Kranskop. It forms part of the broader iLembe district which includes the towns of Ballito, Ndwedwe and Mandeni.

The 2021 local government elections: The ANC won the ward with less than 50% of the vote. It finished 12% off its 2016 haul of 60%. The party did not lose ground to the IFP as the IFP all but matched its 2016 result. A party called African People First finished third with 6% of the vote. Diminished returns like those seen in Ward 11 resulted in the ANC losing its outright majority and the council being hung. The ANC won 11 out of 23 seats and beat the IFP by one seat. It fell one seat short of an outright majority. The IFP received support from the EFF and a party called the Independent Alliance to bag the mayoral chain. 

The by-election: The ward councillor, Zakhele Kuzwayo, was assassinated in September. He was shot multiple times. Only three parties threw their names in the hat for the by-election – the ANC, the IFP and the EFF. 

The ANC increased their percentage vote the ward by winning more than 60% of the vote in an election where its chief challenger all but matched its 2021 result. The result indicates that African People First (APF) voters switched to the ANC in the by-election. The ANC went into the by-election with seven out of 10 voting districts going its way in 2021. It flipped two voting districts and ceded one to the IFP. 

The most significant change in the voting district results was at Esindi Primary School, which accounts for about 15% of the ward. In 2021, the ANC finished third here with 24% of the vote. In the by-election, it fell just short of 80% of the vote, amassing a total of 78%. It hoovered up the 33% the APF received and some IFP support as the IFP fell to 21% from the 38% it won in the local government elections. At the Esiqhoqhweni Primary School voting district, the ANC’s vote share went from 57% to 79% while the IFP’s went south from 29% to 19%. 

This by-election hold for the ANC means that the IFP’s grip on Maphumulo remains extremely tenuous

Turnout: 58% (52%).

Ward 5 (Eyingwenya Mghabi) in Mthonjaneni, King Cetshwayo: IFP 50% (46%) ANC 49% (50%) EFF 1% (1%)

The setting: Mthonjaneni is centred on Melmoth which is in the interior of northern KwaZulu-Natal between Eshowe and Ulundi on the R66 road. Ward 5 is a rural ward which sits northwest of the Goedertrouw Dam, and comprises a number of villages. Mthonjaneni is part of the King Cetshwayo District which includes Richards Bay, Nkandla and Eshowe.

The 2021 local government elections: The IFP lost outright control of Mthonjaneni as it lost votes to numerous independent candidates who were former IFP councillors. The party was one seat short of an outright majority and had to approach the EFF to get the IFP candidate for mayor elected. The ANC won Ward 5 by getting 81 more votes than the IFP. It won four of the seven districts, including the three most vote-rich districts, while the IFP won the other three. 

Read in Daily Maverick: “DA cut down to size by FF+ in Paarl while ANC takes a knock in Nyanga and rural Mpumalanga

The by-election: A resignation triggered the by-election. This is the second contest in Mthonjaneni in recent months, with the IFP retaining the ward in the previous round. In that by-election, both the IFP and the ANC increased their percentage share of the vote by winning over NFP voters. 

The IFP pipped the ANC at the line in a very closely fought contest. There were accusations made by the IFP that the ANC bused in supporters from Richards Bay to vote. There were counter-allegations from the ANC that IFP supporters were blocking voting stations with guns. 

The IFP finished ahead of the ANC by just 29 votes. A key part to the  IFP winning the ward was flipping the Mfanefile Primary School voting district by four votes, overturning a 42-vote margin for the ANC in 2021. More than 25% of the voters in this ward vote here. The IFP also flipped the Umghabi School voting district, which had the fourth-largest number of voters in the ward. It was nip and tuck as the ANC made some dents in areas traditionally favourable for the IFP, and vice versa for the ANC in IFP areas. 

What is most significant about this victory is that the IFP now controls 13 of the 25 Mthonjaneni seats and is no longer reliant on the support of one of the smaller parties to keep the mayoral chain. The new seat allocation is IFP 13 (12), ANC 9 (10), NFP 1, EFF 1, Academic Congress Union (ACU) 1 – total 25. 

Turnout: 55% (54%).

Ward 13 (Bhekuzulu Vryheid East Farms) AbaQulusi in Zululand: IFP 65% (49%) ANC 33% (37%) EFF 2% (3%)

The setting: Most of the voters in the ward reside in the Bhekuzulu township, east of the Vryheid town centre. The ward also includes districts centred on farms near the Vryheid East area. Vryheid is the seat of power in AbaQulusi. The municipality includes part of the Ithala Game Reserve. It forms part of the Zululand district in the north of KwaZulu-Natal which includes towns like Ulundi, Nongoma and Paulpietersburg. 

The 2021 local government elections: The IFP beat the ANC by 195 votes, winning five of the six voting districts in the ward, including the KwaBhanya Secondary School district in Bhekizulu. This district has just about half of the registered voters in the ward. The ANC carried the voting district centred on the Doornhoek farm area near Vryheid East. 

The IFP replaced the ANC as the largest party in AbaQulusi after the local government elections, but fell short of an outright majority. It won the mayorship after getting the backing of smaller opposition parties. The IFP gained three additional seats by winning 21 out of the 45 seats. The ANC lost eight seats from the 22 it had on the eve of the local government elections to finish on 14. The next-biggest party was the National Freedom Party (NFP) which won four seats. 

The by-election: The previous councillor passed away in a car accident. The funeral drew controversy when the IFP-lead municipality spent R200,000 on the funeral. The AbaQulusi administration has been mired in controversy. The mayor and deputy mayor were found guilty by an ethics committee of wasteful expenditure pertaining to VIP protection and car rentals. The committee found the mayor and his deputy unfit for office, but a vote in council saw them both get a stay of execution. The IFP, ANC and EFF were the three parties on the ballot. 

The IFP romped home, winning almost two-thirds of the vote in this by-election, and in turn getting 627 more votes than the ANC, well up from the 195 difference in the local government elections. The IFP also won every single voting district, flipping the Doornhoek farm district, garnering 59% of the vote, up from the 34% in 2021, with the ANC falling from 57% to 41%. At the vote-rich KwaBhanya School in Bhekuzulu, the IFP climbed from 54% to 69%, with the ANC going from 33% to 29%. 

It is a vital win for the IFP in a municipality where it depends on the backing of smaller parties. 

Turnout: 47% (42%).

Ward 10 (Pennington Park Rynie), uMdoni in Ugu: DA 82% (85%) ANC 15% (5%)  IFP 2% (1%) EFF 1% (3%) Al Jama-ah <1% (1%)

The setting: Pennington and Park Rynie are two coastal towns on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal. uMdoni’s seat of power is in Scottburgh. It also includes the sugarcane town of uMzinto where the ANC won a ward off the DA in July 2022. uMdoni is part of the Ugu District which includes the towns of Scottburgh, Harding and Hibberdene. 

The 2021 local government elections: The DA ran up the numbers here to win the ward by just under 1,950 votes. The ANC lost six seats and an outright majority in the municipality to win 17 of the 37 seats in the council. The ANC had to turn to smaller parties to get its candidate for mayor elected. 

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

The by-election: The previous ward councillor resigned. The IFP fielded Sharon Peetz as its candidate. Peetz is a former DA councillor and mayoral committee member in Johannesburg. 

The DA came close to matching its 2021 tally of 85%. The ANC tripled its 2021 percentage vote share of 5% to finish on 15%. The ANC did this by winning an impressive 29% of the vote in Park Rynie, well up from 8% in the local government elections. This saw the DA decline from 79% to 66% at Park Rynie.  

However, there was a major turnout differential between Pennington and Park Rynie. Pennington has about 54% of the ward’s voters, but accounted for 70% of the turnout in the by-election, with Park Rynie having under 30% turnout in the by-election and accounting for more than 45% of the voters in the ward. 

The DA matched its 88% result in Pennington in the by-election, while the ANC went from 4% to 9%. 

Turnout: 37% (49%).

Ward 11 (Dungamanzi Keate’s Drift) Msinga, uMzinyathi: IFP 57% (60%) ANC 42% (39%) EFF 1% (<1%)

The setting: Ward 11 is south of Tugela Ferry, with voting districts straddling the R33 road which links Tugela Ferry with Greytown. Dungamanzi is the village where most residents in the ward live. uMsinga also includes the town of Pomeroy. It is part of the uMzinyathi district which hosts towns such as Dundee, Nqutu and Greytown. 

The local government elections: The IFP won 60% of the vote in this ward, bagging five of the six voting districts, with the ANC winning the other district. The margin of victory was just under 540 votes. The IFP won 27 out of the 41 available seats in the council, with the ANC fulfilling the role of the official opposition with 11 seats. 

The by-election: Siyanda Magubane, the IFP councillor, was assassinated while travelling in a car with another IFP councillor, Lungisani Ntuli. Their car was riddled with bullets which took the life of Magubane. Ntuli spoke at his funeral and accused the IFP mayor, Mletheni Ndlovu, of having a role in the murder. Mletheni and two other IFP councillors were arrested in connection with possession of an unlicensed firearm. Mayor Ndlovu was suspended from party activities by the IFP. The IFP in Msinga went into this by-election in a fractious state. The ANC and EFF were also on the ballot. 

Despite the clear internal divisions within IFP ranks in Msinga, the party put aside its differences and came together to ensure that Ward 11 remains firmly in IFP hands. Three of the voting districts in the ward changed hands as the IFP won the Nomfovelo School voting district off the ANC, all but inverting the 2021 result, with the IFP getting 60%, up from 40%, and the ANC sliding from 58% to 40%. The ANC will be happy with its win at the Mertoun School district, where they climbed from 49% to 56%, and the IFP declined from 50% to 44%. The Mertoun School district is the most populous part of the ward. The ANC also took the Fundokuhle High School district off the IFP.

Despite three voting districts changing hands, the result was very similar to the last contest here. The IFP remains firmly ensconced in Msinga. 

Turnout: 61% (62%).


The two by-elections are in the West Rand District, the principal town of which is Krugersdorp. It also includes Randfontein and Magaliesburg.

Ward 4 (Khutsong Ext 3 Joe Slovo) in Merafong: ANC 62% (42% PR*) Ind-Khumisi 16% EFF 11% (29% PR) PA 8% (<1% PR)  Merafong Agents of Change 1% (5%) ATM 1% (1% PR) IRC 1% (<1% PR) PAC <1% (1% PR)

The setting: Khutsong is a township on the outskirts of the mining town of Carletonville. Extension 3 is in the northwestern part of Khutsong, close to the North West border. The ward includes the informal settlement of Joe Slovo. Merafong’s municipal headquarters are in Carletonville. The municipality encompasses Fochville, the Abe Bailey Nature Reserve and Holfontein.

The 2021 local government elections: Independent candidate Thabo Malatjie shocked the ANC by winning 57% of the vote. He won more than double the number of votes the ANC received as it finished on 25%. Malatjie won all three voting districts. The ANC finished behind the DA on the ward ballot at the Khutsong Extension 3 Clinic, winning only 13% of the vote there. This was also where Malatjie did best, winning 64% of the district vote. 

Malatjie was an independent and therefore could not be on the PR ballot. Here the ANC restored some normalcy, but was still well under the 50% mark as the EFF gave it a run for its money, as the ANC finished 164 votes ahead of the EFF on the PR ballot. The DA finished third on the PR ballot with 13%, while local party Merafong Agents for Change (MAOC) received 5%. 

It was results like this which cost the ANC its outright majority as the party lost a total of three seats as its representation on the Merafong council declined from 30 seats to 27. It finished one seat short of an outright majority. The DA lost one quarter of its seats as it fell from 12 to nine. The EFF remained stable on nine seats while the FF+ went from one seat to four. The ANC had to approach a smaller party to form a coalition and get another term at the helm of Merafong. 

The by-election: Thabo Malatjie, an eager 31-year-old councillor and community leader, was murdered while visiting Lesotho. He was robbed of the cash he was holding and his possessions and then shot execution style. 

There were eight candidates for the by-election, with the ANC, EFF and MAOC expected to be best positioned to do well. Local chorister Ompi Khumisi stood as an independent, with parties like the Patriotic Alliance hoping to ruffle some Merafong feathers (is this tense correct). 

The ANC won big in this by-election. It easily carried all three voting districts. Its best showing was at the Khutsong Extension 4 clinic voting district where it jumped from 31% on the PR ballot to 68% in the by-election. The EFF declined from 29% to 7% here. Ompi Khumisi, the independent, won 23% of the vote in this district. At the Joe Slovo informal settlement voting district, the ANC’s vote share spiked from 47% to 70%, with the EFF going in the opposite direction, from 31% to 9%. Khumisi also finished runner-up in this district, obtaining 15%. 

At the Christian Assembly Church district in Extension 3, the ANC did not have the same growth, declining slightly from 49% to 48%, as the Patriotic Alliance made its mark here, affecting the ANC, the EFF and Merafong Agents of Change with a 22% haul. 

The win for the ANC gives it an outright majority in the municipality. It now has 28 of the 55 seats in Merafong and will be able to lead the municipality without having to depend on any other party. It is a significant by-election win for the ANC. 

The new council composition is: ANC 28 (27), DA 9, EFF 9, FF+ 4, MAOC 2, AIC 1, UDM 1, IFP 1, Independent 0 (1) – total: 55.

Turnout: 42% (40% PR).

Ward 22 (Noordheuwel Rangeview) in Mogale City: DA 75% (76%) FF+ 23% (17%) EFF 2% (2%) ANC 1% (4%) OHM <1% (0%).

The setting: Ward 22 is one of the leafier parts of Mogale City. It is east of the Krugersdorp centre, right on the border of the Walter Sisulu National Botanical Garden and by extension the City of Johannesburg.  It also includes the large Kingdom Hall of the Jehovah’s Witnesses compound which greets you on Robert Broom Drive. 

The 2021 local government elections: The DA won more than three-quarters of the vote here, getting 2,000 more votes than the FF+. However, it lost ground to the FF+. In 2016, the DA won 87% of the vote and the FF+ only 5%. The DA’s decline in this ward in 2021 was essentially due to votes which exclusively went over to the FF+.

The by-election: The ward councillor went to the Gauteng legislature. Joining the DA and FF+ on the ballot were the ANC, EFF and Organic Humanity Movement (OHM). The latter would want an improvement on its 2021 showing when it received nil votes in the ward. The by-election comes on the back of two consecutive by-elections where the FF+ turned the tables on the DA in Bela-Bela in Limpopo and ran it very close in a Paarl by-election. 

The DA put a brake on the vote-shedding to the FF+ with a solid hold in this by-election. It all but matched its 2021 showing. The FF+ still made good ground but would have wanted to run the DA closer in this low-turnout election. The FF+’s support in Rangeview grew from 16% to 26%, with the DA’s support dropping from 73% to 72%. An interesting contest within a contest was the EFF pipping the ANC for third place in this safe DA seat. 

Turnout: 24% (63%).

Eastern Cape

Ward 33 (Tarkastad Zola) in Enoch Mgijima, Chris Hani: ANC 55% (51% PR**) DA 38% (11% PR) EFF 3% (19% PR) Action SA 3% UDM 1% (3% PR)

The setting: Tarkastad is near the Winterberg mountain range and sits between Komani and Cradock on the R61 road. This small farming town is in the Karoo region of this sprawling municipality whose seat of power is in Komani. Enoch Mgijima municipality is part of the Chris Hani District. There were two by-elections in Chris Hani in March, where the ANC totally dominated the opposition, getting over 90% in both contests. Chris Hani’s main town is also Komani, and extends to Tsomo, Cofimvaba, Cala and Cradock. 

The 2021 local government elections: The ANC beat independent candidate Ntombekhaya Kortman by a mere four votes on the ward ballot. It got more than 50% of the vote on the proportional ballot in the local government elections, finishing far ahead of the second-placed EFF which obtained 19%. The DA (11%) beat local party The Independents (10%) for third place. When one compares the proportional result in 2021 with the ward result, it is clear that the independent candidate, Martha Kortman, took votes from the ANC, the EFF, the DA and the Independents. Kortman was also backed by members of the South African Communist Party (SACP).

The first 2022 by-election: A rerun of the by-election was ordered after the local government elections due to a court order setting the ward result aside because of concerns about irregularities. In the rerun, Kortman beat the ANC and the other parties contesting. Kortman won both of the Zola township voting districts. She also won the DA district in Tarkastad. The ANC won the remaining Tarkastad district. 

The by-election: Ntombekhaya Kortman passed away after an illness. The ANC went into the by-election as the favourite, with the EFF seen as their most likely challenger because of its second-place finish on the PR ballot in the 2021 local government elections. The DA sat out the last by-election, but threw its name in the hat again. ActionSA decided to contest its fourth ever by-election and its first beyond a metro. The party fielded Ntsikelelo Sampempe, who was the first mayor of Tarkastad after the 1994 elections.  

The ANC won back the seat it lost in the by-election earlier in the year. The ANC did what it needed to do. It got the voters of Zola out to the polls and also increased its percentage vote share in both Zola voting districts. At the Raymond Mhlaba Secondary School district in Zola, the ANC went from 62% in 2021 on the PR ballot, to 71%, while the EFF fell from 16% to 1%. The ANC also improved on its 2021 PR showing in a result that will be most validating for the ANC. 

The DA surged to a strong second-place finish. It not only had vast improvements on its 2021 performance, but also outran the combined DA and Ken Clark’s The Independents total in three of the four voting districts. The only district where the DA fell short on its 2021 returns was the one in which it did best in 2021 – Tarkastad Town Hall. The turnout was relatively poor at 48% compared with the ward average of 63% and it was 1% off from the combined DA/The Independents total of 53%. It was still up from the 30% it won here in 2021. It received 31% and 26% of the vote in the two Zola township voting districts, well up from the respective 2% (DA/The Independents combined 7%) and 4% (DA/The Independents combined 14%). In Ivanlew, it won more than 70% of the vote, whereas in 2021 it won 25% (DA/The Independents combined 34%). This voting district flipped from the ANC to the DA.

This was a difficult by-election for both the EFF and ActionSA. The EFF’s percentage vote share fell from 33% to 7% and 16% to 1% in the Zola township. In the Tarkastad town centre (Town Hall voting district), its fortunes went from 9% to 1%. This was ActionSA’s worst by-election performance to date. It has been very meticulous in choosing which by-elections to choose. The party will go back to the drawing board and focus on Polokwane in early 2023 where it has announced it will contest its fifth by-election and first in Limpopo. 

The council composition returns to what it was after the 2021 local government elections: ANC 44 (43), DA 7, EFF 6, The Independents (Ken Clark) 5, Isanco 2, UDM 1, PA 1, ATM 1, Independent 0 (1) – total: 68.

Turnout: 63% (67%). (We have used the last by-election turnout as the point of comparison rather than the local government elections turnout percentage.) 

Ward 20 (Gqwesa Qhotira) in Mhlontlo, OR Tambo: ANC 70% (52%) UDM-Ngewu 23% (11%+29%***) ATM 3% (2%) EFF 3% (4%) Isanco 1% (0)

The setting: Ward 20 is a large rump of territory which has 13 voting districts, comprising many small villages. It is a rural ward with the bulk of the villages only accessible by dirt road. Gqwesa is next to the village of Etwa. These two villages are between the N2 national road and the R56 regional road. They are almost in line with the trading town of Mt Frere. The ward extends to Qhotira, which links Tsolo with Nqanqarhu (formerly Maclear). Mhlontlo is ANC country. The principal towns in the municipality are in Qumbu and Tsolo. It sits in the OR Tambo District which encompasses Libode, Mthatha, Lusikisiki and Flagstaff. 

The 2021 local government elections: While the ANC finished way ahead of the rest on the PR ballot, winning just under three-quarters of the vote, it was harder on the ward ballot. Independent candidate Mfuneko Ngewu won just under 30%, eating into the large historic ANC majority, and also taking some votes away from the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and the EFF. Ngewu was a former ANC ward councillor. He was accused of fraud and corruption in the previous term of local government. While the ANC won the PR ballot by 845 votes, it was reduced to 339 votes on the ward ballot. The party won nine out of 13 voting districts, with Ngweu finishing top with three and the UDM also winning a district. Ngweu did very well in Gwesa, winning both districts in the village comfortably. The ANC did very well in the relatively smaller villages, while having a tougher time in Gqwesa and Qhotira. It only won one of the four voting districts in both villages. 

The by-election: The ward councillor passed away. The ANC, UDM, EFF, African Transformation Movement (ATM) and a regional party, the Independent South African National Civic Organisation (Isanco) all appeared on the ballot. While the ANC often just has to show up in Mhlontlo by-elections, Mfuneko Ngewu was back again. This time he stood for the UDM. Would his aligning with the UDM and not running as an independent help or hinder his brand? 

The ANC easily dismissed the united challenge of the UDM and Ngewu as it won more than 70% of the vote. The party won 12 of the 13 voting districts in the ward, netting an additional three districts when considering the 2021 results. The only voting district retained by the opposition was in Qhotira where the UDM held onto the district. Turnout was only at 25% in this part of the ward. The two voting districts in Gqwesa swung sharply from the opposition to the ANC as the ANC won more than 80% of the vote in both of the districts, more than doubling its support in Gwesa. In sharp contrast, independent Ngewu won a respective 60% and 75% of the vote in 2021, in the by-election, the UDM version of Ngewu only won 13% and 16%. The result in the two Gwesa voting districts is emblematic of the ANC’s growth and the opposition’s misfiring. 

Turnout: 38% (45%).

The final round of by-elections for 2022 will be a big one. Residents of Ditsobotla (Lichtenburg) in North West will return to the polls as voters there will get to elect a new council. The ANC will defend five wards in Mkhondo (eMkhondo, formerly Piet Retief) in Mpumalanga and will have a tricky assignment in eThekwini when it defends a ward in the town of Umkomaas. 

* The proportional representation (PR) ballot result from the previous election is used when it is a better indicator of support for a party in the ward. 

** The proportional representation (PR) ballot result from the local government election is used here rather than the first 2022 by-election result as it is a better indicator of support for a party in the ward. 

*** The combined percentage of independent candidate Mfuneko Ngewu and the UDM is used here as Ngewu, a high-profile candidate, joined the UDM for the by-election.


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