ANC and Patriotic Alliance give DA the Barrydale blues with second Western Cape defeat
The ANC prevailed in a three-way to-and-fro with the DA and the Patriotic Alliance to win the Barrydale ward off the DA, while the IFP picked up a vacant independent seat in Dannhauser, a former ANC stronghold.
Ward 2 (Barrydale) in Swellendam, Overberg: ANC 37% (48%) PA 31% (<1%) DA 30% (49%) GOOD 1% (<1%) EFF <1% (<1%)
The setting: Barrydale is a picturesque town on the R62 regional road between Montagu and Ladismith. It is in the shadow of the Zuurberg and the Grootvadersbosch. Barrydale is linked with Swellendam via the Tradouw Pass which runs next to the inviting Tradou River. Barrydale is on the border of the Klein Karoo, and on the edge of the Overberg district. Overberg includes Hermanus, Bredasdorp and Grabouw.
More than 70% of Ward 2’s voters are in Barrydale and Smitsville. The ward has two other voting districts which are centred on the farms in the Barrydale district. This includes Lemoenshoek on the road to Ladismith, and Vleiplaas, which is on the road to Montagu.
The 2021 local government elections: The DA pipped the ANC by 47 votes here. The latter won the town of Barrydale by three votes and also the Lemoenshoek voting district, but the DA won the Vleiplaas area by a wide enough margin to win the ward. The DA won this ward off the ANC in a 2019 by-election with Michael Pokwas as its candidate. Pokwas retained the ward for the DA in 2021.
The DA retained Swellendam municipality in 2021, winning six of the 11 seats. The ANC is the official opposition with four seats, with the FF+ winning the final seat.
The by-election: Pokwas and two other DA proportional representative councillors, Bongani Sonqwenqwe and Gcobisa Mangcu-Qotyiwe, had their membership terminated after disobeying caucus instructions when the caucus decided to delay advertising a post within the municipality. The caucus was split down the middle when the matter was first voted on. Helen Zille, the party’s federal council chair, attended the follow-up meeting to resolve the matter. As per the party’s constitution, she had the casting vote to break the deadlock. She voted with the mayor, Francois du Rand, and two other DA councillors. Pokwas and his colleagues went against the party in council and voted with the opposition. This resulted in their membership being terminated and the need for a by-election in Pokwas’s seat. The expelled councillors went to the high court to challenge the DA’s decision. Their application was dismissed. The DA and ANC were joined on the ballot by the Patriotic Alliance (PA), GOOD and the EFF. Despite the popular Pokwas being expelled from the party, he decided to sit out the by-election and did not endorse any other candidate.
Read our Ground Level by-election report by Sune Payne in Daily Maverick: “Barrydale by-elections — a ‘peaceful’ Western Cape town hopes a new councillor will bring about change”
The ANC won this ward by 144 votes by taking the largest voting district (Smitsville) by a wide margin of 185 votes. Smitsville was the last district to come in. Up to that point, the DA, the ANC and the Patriotic Alliance (PA) all had a shot at winning it. The turnout in Smitsville was also considerably higher than the two more rural voting districts, with 68% of the registered voting population coming out, while the other districts had a mid- to high 50% turnout.
The DA won the Lemoenshoek (Warmwatersberg) voting district off the ANC, while the ANC won the Vleiplaas voting district off the DA. Worse was to come for the DA as its performance in the Barrydale (Smitsville) voting district was sub-par. The PA beat the DA in this vote-rich part of the ward, which saw that party finish as runner-up to the ANC.
The PA hardly featured here in 2021. After just 18 months it is now the second-most popular party in the ward, as it continues to eat into other parties’ support across the province, especially the DA’s.
This is the second by-election seat the DA has lost in the Western Cape in 2023. Both defeats, in Kensington and Barrydale, were probably avoidable. These are self-inflicted wounds by the DA. This loss will dampen the spirits of the blue activists in the province and help to reignite the ANC there and give the PA more fuel to continue making inroads.
Poll: 65% (68%)
Ward 12 (Annieville, Annandale) in Dannhauser, Amajuba: IFP 52% (36% PR) ANC 34% (36% PR*) EFF 12% (16% PR) ABC 2% (2% PR)
The setting: Annieville and Annandale are east and northeast of the town of Dannhauser. It also includes the settlement of Doornkop. Dannhauser is just off the N11 national road, between Dundee and Ladysmith. This used to be coal country but today is associated more with livestock farming. Dannhauser is part of the Amajuba district. Amajuba is in northern KwaZulu-Natal. It borders both Mpumalanga and the Free State and also includes the towns of Newcastle and Utrecht.
The 2021 local government elections: The ANC was shocked in a once safe seat when an independent candidate, Mlungisi Dhlamini, won the ward in a three-way tussle with the ANC and the IFP. Dhlamini obtained 45 more votes than the ANC as he won 30% of the vote, with the ANC getting 28%. The IFP received 20% and the EFF 12%. The race for proportional representation (PR) supremacy was even closer as the ANC bested the IFP by 16 votes, with both parties winning 36% of the PR vote.
Read more in Daily Maverick: “Patriotic Alliance delivers more scares, but ANC and DA hang on to seats in Northern and Eastern Cape”
Ward 12 was emblematic of the ANC’s difficulties in Dannhauser. It did not only lose the ward but also lost outright control of Dannhauser. It lost five of the 14 seats it had in the 25-seat council. It was still the most popular party, with nine seats. The IFP came second with eight, while the EFF was third with three. The remaining council seats were won by single-seat representatives: the DA, the Abantu Batho Congress (ABC), regional party Team Sugar SA, the ward councillor for Ward 12, Dhlamini, and a local party, the Community Freedom Party (CFP).
An IFP mayor and speaker were elected, with an EFF deputy mayor. The IFP beat the ANC by attracting the support of the EFF, Team Sugar, the DA, ABC and the CFP.
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The by-election: The independent councillor, Mlungisi Dhlamini, resigned from council. This triggered the by-election. Soon after this the EFF walked out of its KZN dalliance with the IFP, which saw the deputy mayor from the EFF stand down from that position, resulting in a hung council. The IFP and its supporters made up 12 of the 24 seats, while the ANC and the EFF matched that. The winner of this by-election would not only determine which bloc would fill the deputy mayor position, but also who would lead the council.
The IFP swept every voting district to upset the ANC in this important by-election and take another ward off the ruling party in KwaZulu-Natal. In 2021, the ANC and the IFP shared the four voting districts on the PR ballot. They included the second-most vote-rich district in the ward, the Kwadedangedlule Hall district in Annandale. The IFP finished behind the EFF here in 2021 with 20%, and in the by-election won 49% to take the district. The ANC declined from 40% to 29%, with the EFF finishing on 21%, down from 29% previously.
In 2016, the ANC won 66% of the vote in the ward with the IFP accruing 26%. In the by-election, the IFP doubled its support from seven years before that.
The IFP will now fill the vacancy and move to elect a new deputy mayor. The CFP or the ABC will most likely stand for that position in the IFP-aligned bloc. The new council composition is IFP 9 (8) ANC 9 EFF 3 ABC 1 Team Sugar 1 CFP 1 DA 1. Total: 25. The IFP is now tied with the ANC for the most seats in Dannhauser.
Poll: 54% (48%)
Ward 8 (Hlokozi, Somelulwazi) in uBuhlebezwe, Harry Gwala: ANC 70% (75%) IFP 20% (6%) EFF 10% (12%)
The setting: This is a rural ward, below the R612 road which links Highflats and Hlutankungu. This is the same road that links Umzimkhulu with Umzinto. uBuhlebezwe, which includes towns such as Ixopo and Highflats, is in southern KwaZulu-Natal, in the ANC heartland of Harry Gwala. The Harry Gwala district is an inland municipality which extends towards the Eastern Cape and the Lesotho borders. It includes uMzimkhulu, the municipality where the ANC does best in KwaZulu-Natal, and Kokstad.
The 2021 local government elections: The ANC won Ward 8 by a landslide, with the EFF beating the IFP for second place. The ANC beat the EFF which trumped the IFP in every voting district in Ward 8.
The ANC won 18 of the 27 seats in uBuhlebezwe. The EFF came second here with three. This was the municipality where the ANC did second-best in Harry Gwala, winning 64% of the vote.
The by-election: The previous ward councillor passed away. It would be interesting to observe whether the voting district sequence of results would be replicated in this by-election, namely the ANC beating the EFF and the EFF triumphing over the IFP in every voting district.
The ANC was rock-solid in this by-election. It showed why the Harry Gwala district is the gold standard for the party in KwaZulu-Natal as it swept the opposition aside and won every voting district.
The IFP will still be satisfied with second place, having beaten the EFF to silver in three of the five voting districts and won almost double the number of votes that the red berets did.
The next round of by-elections will be on 5 April, in Gauteng and Mpumalanga. KwaZulu-Natal too will have numerous elections on that day. DM
* 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.