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MARCH BY-ELECTIONS

IFP gives ANC wake-up call as it makes huge inroads in KwaZulu-Natal wards

IFP gives ANC wake-up call as it makes huge inroads in KwaZulu-Natal wards
IFP members celebrate the party's local government election victory in Ulundi, KwaZulu-Natal on 4 November 2021. Big shifts to the IFP in vote-rich areas such as Msunduzi and traditional ANC fortresses in Ray Nkonyeni and uMshwathi in the March 2023 by-elections, mean the ANC is at real risk of falling below 50% in KwaZulu-Natal in 2024, according to Wayne Sussman. (Photo: Supplied)

The IFP won a ward off the ANC in Sweetwaters next to Pietermaritzburg and gave the ruling party a fright in two of its strongholds in KwaZulu-Natal in the latest round of by-elections.

KwaZulu-Natal

uMgungundlovu  

This district includes the provincial capital of KwaZulu-Natal, Pietermaritzburg. It is situated in the Midlands region of the province and includes places like Howick, Camperdown, Mooi River and Richmond.

Ward 2 (Sweetwaters) in Msunduzi: IFP 58% (11%) ANC 39% (38%) EFF 2% (14%) PAC 1% (<1%) Azapo (<1%) (<1%).

The setting: Ward 2 is centred on Sweetwaters, which is west of the city centre of Pietermaritzburg on the other side of the N3 national road. The township sits between the provincial capital and the Henley Dam. Sweetwaters includes formal housing and some informal settlements. 

The 2021 local government elections: The ANC faced a stiff challenge in Ward 2 from the Abantu Batho Congress (ABC), a KwaZulu-Natal party. The ANC beat the ABC by just over 440 votes, with the ABC getting 27% of the vote. The ANC carried six of the seven voting districts, with the EFF winning a voting district in the Nadi district. The ANC finished second in all but one of the districts, the same district where the EFF won, pushing the ANC into second place. 

The ANC lost its outright majority in Msunduzi in the elections. The party shed 13 seats as it fell from 53 seats to 40 in the 81-seat council. It needed to turn to more sympathetic parties like the African Independent Congress (AIC) to ensure it retained the mayoral chain. The EFF more than tripled its seat allocation – from three to 10 – while the DA remained the official opposition, moving from 14 seats to 16. The IFP went from five seats to eight and the ABC won two. Five other parties won a single seat each. 

The by-election: The previous ward councillor passed away after a short illness. The ABC sat out this by-election, with the ANC, IFP and EFF hoping to attract ABC voters in Sweetwaters. The Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) and the Azanian People’s Organisation (Azapo) were also on the ballot. The ANC made inroads in a safe DA seat in a January by-election. The party would be hopeful that that trend would continue here. 

There was a wild swing to the IFP as the party swept all seven voting districts, winning six off the ANC and the lone EFF-held voting district from 2021. The IFP received 759 more votes than the ANC, attracting 2,408, with the ANC getting 1,649. Most votes were cast at the Bhekizizwe Primary School in KwaBhekizizwe. Here the IFP’s percentage vote share went from 7% to 54%, with the ANC’s declining from 57% to 44%. The ABC got 17% here in 2021. Its voters shifted to the IFP, while the EFF got less than 1% this time, compared with 9% in 2021. Its voters also moved across to the IFP here. At the Mbubu Gospel Church voting district in Nadi, the EFF fell from 49% to 10%, while the IFP surged from 8% to 54%. The ANC went up from 28% to 36%. The ABC got 9% here in 2021. 

Read in Daily Maverick:Stellenbosch by-election highlights what voters are most concerned about: housing and safety

The second-, third- and fourth-largest voting districts are all in Sweetwaters. At Siyanda High School, the IFP went from 9% to 66%, with the ANC coming close to matching its 34% in 2021, finishing on 32%. The IFP would have picked up the big 31% bulk of ABC voters in this ward from 2021. The EFF declined from 9% here to 1%. Both the IFP and the ANC went up at Nobanda High School in Sweetwaters. This was where the ABC did best in 2021, receiving an impressive 35% of the vote. The IFP pipped the ANC for first place as it went from 9% to 50% and the ANC moved from 43% to 50%. The IFP’s Sweetwaters streak continued at Sweetwaters Primary, going from 30% to 53%, while the ANC improved from 35% to 46%. The ABC obtained 19% of the vote here in the local government elections. 

The new council composition for Msunduzi is: ANC 39 (40) DA 16 EFF 10 IFP 9 (8) ABC 2 AIC 1 PA 1 Independent 1 ACDP 1 Justice & Employment Party 1. Total: 81. The ANC will now depend on both the African Independent Congress (AIC) and the Patriotic Alliance (PA) to ensure it keeps the mayoral chain. 

Poll: 57% (55%)

Ward 25 (Montrose Chase Valley) in Msunduzi: DA 97% (88%) ANC 3% (5%) EFF <1% (1%)

The setting: Ward 25 is a leafy suburb in the north of Pietermaritzburg. It extends to the uMngeni border. The ward straddles both sides of the N3 and includes Montrose, Chase Valley and Wembley.

The local government elections: The DA romped home here, winning between 86% and 90% in the three voting districts. 

The by-election: The previous ward councillor took up a vacancy in Parliament for the DA. The ANC and EFF were competing for second place.

The DA won between 96% and 97% of the vote in the three voting districts. The new councillor, Reggie Khanyile, could become an important figure for the party in Msunduzi. This was a morale-boosting win for the DA. 

Poll: 35% (56%)

Ward 12 (Swayimana) in uMshwathi: ANC 53% (76%) IFP 45%  (5%) EFF 2% (17%)

The setting: uMshwathi is centred on the small towns of Wartburg and New Dalton. The area is known for its sugar cane farming and timber. It is said to have the highest proportion of German speakers in South Africa. Ward 12 is centred on Swayimana, which is about 14km from the seat of uMshwathi’s power, Wartburg.

The 2021 local government elections: The ANC won over three-quarters of the vote in Ward 12, with the EFF finishing second. The ANC won between 75% and 88% of the vote in four of the five voting districts in the ward. The EFF did best at the Gobizembe High School district in Swayimana where it won 29% of the vote. The ANC won 66%.


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The ANC retained its outright majority in uMshwathi but lost four seats in the elections to move to 16 seats from 20 in the 27-seat council. The EFF went from one seat to four to replace the IFP as the official opposition in the council. The IFP lost a seat and fell to three councillors, with the DA remaining on two councillors and the ANC and PA winning single seats in uMshwathi. 

The by-election: The previous councillor passed away. The ANC was keen to re-establish its total dominance in Swayimana while the EFF was aiming to continue making inroads in uMshwathi. 

There was a sharp swing to the IFP in this ward as it won two of the five districts off the ANC in a contest that was much closer than expected. 

The IFP won the second-most vote-rich district, the Gobizembe High School district in Swayimana. Here, the IFP went from a paltry 3% to 50%, as the ANC fell from 66% to 46% and the EFF from 29% to 4%. In the Baxoleleni Primary School district in Mambedwini, the IFP leapt from 3% to 63%, with the ANC falling from 76% to 36% and the EFF from 20% to 1%. 

The ANC beat the IFP by 90 votes in the most populous district at Inkululeko Primary School in Swayimana, but the ANC’s percentage vote share declined from 80% to 56%, with the IFP surging from 4% to 40%. 

In the final uMshwathi analysis, the ANC received 1,114 votes to the IFP’s 949 for a 165-vote victory. 

Poll: 53% (54%)

Ugu

The Ugu district is on the South Coast of KwaZulu-Natal and includes towns like Hibberdene, Margate, Scottburgh and Harding. Its seat of power is in Port Shepstone.

Ward 24 (Nyandezulu) in Ray Nkonyeni: ANC 57% (66%) IFP 39% (15%) EFF 4% (17%)

The setting: Nyandezulu is a rural village west of the holiday town of Shelly Beach. The area is very important to the Shembe Church because this is where the holy Mdlungwana Mountains are. Ray Nkonyeni is the largest municipality in Ugu. It includes Port Shepstone and Margate and extends from Hibberdene to Port Edward.

The 2021 local government elections: The ANC won two-thirds of the vote in this ward. It swept all six voting districts. The more interesting contest was for second place where the EFF beat the IFP.

The ANC retained its outright majority in the 71-seat Ray Nkonyeni council. However, it lost 10 seats, moving from 47 to 37. The main beneficiaries were the EFF, which moved from two seats to seven, and the IFP, which went from five seats to eight. The DA remained the official opposition as it remained steady on 14 seats. Five other parties won a single seat. 

The by-election: The previous ward councillor resigned after he won his job back as a municipal worker in Ray Nkonyeni. More than 100 municipal workers were dismissed in 2019 and reinstated in late 2022. 

The IFP won three out of the six voting districts and more than doubled its support in Ward 24 to get a solid second place in this southern KwaZulu-Natal ward. This included winning the second-most-populous voting district, Makhanda High School in Nyandezulu. The party climbed from 24% to 48%, while the ANC dipped under the 50% mark to also finish on 48% after obtaining 53% here in 2021. The EFF fell from 19% to 4%. The Zwelihle High School district has just over 15% of the registered voters in the ward. Here the IFP leapt from 20% to 53%, with the ANC decreasing from 50% to 43% and the EFF tail-spinning from 26% to 4%. 

In 2021, the ANC dominated the Nyandezulu Primary School District, winning 82% of the vote, while the IFP and EFF both obtained 8%. This is by far the most vote-rich part of the ward since it has over 33% of the registered voters. This was again key to the ANC winning the ward as it obtained 73% of the vote. The IFP grew from 8% to 25% and the EFF finished on 2%. The IFP was unable to close the 498-vote gap between it and the ANC in this district. 

Poll: 57% (41%)

Cape Winelands, Western Cape

The Cape Winelands includes towns like Paarl, Wellington, Stellenbosch and Worcester. This area had the second-highest number of voters in the province after Cape Town in 2021. 

Ward 21 (Paradyskloof Jamestown) Stellenbosch in Cape Winelands: DA 73% (83%) ACDP 16% (3%) Ind-Van Wyk 6% GOOD 4% (5%) ANC 1% (1%) EFF 1% (<1%)

The setting: The ward is south of Stellenbosch, on the road linking Somerset West and Stellenbosch. It is by the Techno Park business centre, and includes wine and strawberry farms and the Stellenbosch Golf Course. Most residents live in Paradyskloof and Jamestown.

Wednesday’s by-election’s ballot featured the Democratic Alliance, GOOD, the African National Congress, the African Christian Democratic Party, the Economic Freedom Fighters and an independent candidate Dawn van Wyk. (Photo: Joel Ontong)

The 2021 local government elections: The DA had a landslide win in Ward 21, albeit slightly down on its 2016 returns, with GOOD finishing second. The DA won 94% of the vote in Paradyskloof and 63% in Jamestown. GOOD won 13% in Jamestown and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) 9%. 

The DA won an outright majority in Stellenbosch (28 of 45 seats) but lost some ground to GOOD and the Freedom Front Plus (FF+). GOOD came third in Stellenbosch with three seats. The ANC remained the official opposition with eight seats. 

The by-election: The ward councillor took up a vacant seat in Parliament. GOOD, ACDP and an independent candidate, Sarah Van Wyk were hoping to hurt the DA in the by-election.

The DA lost some ground in the by-election but still recorded a big win. Most of its trouble came from the ACDP which had a credible second-place finish. The latter grew from 9% to 32% in Jamestown, with the DA dropping from 63% to 53%. GOOD lost some voting real estate in Jamestown, sliding from 13% to 9%. Sarah van Wyk finished fourth in Jamestown with 5%.

The DA’s dent was smaller in Paradyskloof but it still won 90% of the vote, slightly down from 94% in 2021. Van Wyk was second with 7%. 

The ACDP will be most pleased by the wide margin between it and GOOD. GOOD will be concerned by its recent string of results in places like Kensington, Struisbaai and now in Jamestown. Patricia de Lille will have to not only master her new ministerial portfolio, but also ensure the party gets its mojo back in the Western Cape and have more results like it got in Nyanga in 2022 and fewer results like this. 

Poll: 38% (66%)

OR Tambo, Eastern Cape

Ward 15 (Lusikisiki Malizole) Ngquza Hill: ANC 83% (66%) UDM 7% (4%) EFF 4% (9%) ATM 4% (3%) APC 2% (1%)

The setting: Lusikisiki sits between Flagstaff and Port St Johns on the R61 regional road.  The seat of power is in Flagstaff. The bulk of Ward 15 is in Lusikisiki. The municipality forms part of the OR Tambo District which includes Mthatha, Qumbu and Libode. 

The 2021 local government elections: The ANC won two-thirds of the vote here. The DA was second with 16% of the vote and the EFF third. 

The ANC lost seven seats in this ANC fortress, going from 53 seats to 46 in the 64-seat council. The ANC’s losses can be mainly attributed to independent candidates winning four wards off the ruling party and the EFF growing from four seats to six. 

The by-election: The ANC ward councillor, Fundisile Ranai, and his 18-year-old son were shot in their home. Both died. At the time there were attempted hits on two other ANC councillors. 

The DA sat out the by-election, with the EFF and the United Democratic Movement (UDM) competing for second place. 

Read in Daily Maverick:

Patriotic Alliance delivers more scares, but ANC and DA hang on to seats in Northern and Eastern Cape

Team Sugar deals bittersweet blow to ANC as small local parties offer blueprint for staying relevant

The ANC showed its fellow activists in KwaZulu-Natal how it should be done, romping home with over 80% of the vote. Results like these illustrate why those who write off the ANC do so at their peril. Most votes were cast at the Assemblies of God Church in Malizole. The ANC went from 70% to 88%. In essence, the party was the sole beneficiary of the DA’s absence from the ballot, as the latter won 18% of the vote here in 2021. Voter turnout was highest at Sichwe Junior Secondary School, where the ANC had a near shutout win, moving from 66% to an impressive 94%. The DA won 19% of the vote here in 2021, while the EFF fell from 12% to 2%. 

The UDM will be satisfied with its silver medal in this ward, while the EFF will be disappointed with its returns. 

Poll: 31% (34%)

In conclusion, the big shifts to the IFP in vote-rich areas such as Msunduzi and traditional ANC fortresses in Ray Nkonyeni and uMshwathi, mean the ANC is at real risk of falling below 50% in KwaZulu-Natal in 2024. The party knows it will need to turn things around in the upcoming KwaZulu-Natal by-elections. 

Next by-elections

The next round is on 22 March when the DA will defend a super marginal seat in Barrydale in the Western Cape and the ANC and IFP go head-to-head for a vacant independent seat in Dannhauser, KwaZulu-Natal. The ANC has a real chance of picking up two wards on that day. It will also defend a safe seat in Ubuhlebezwe, an ANC stronghold in southern KwaZulu-Natal. DM

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