Key Tshwane win gives ANC a motivation boost while DA suffers low-turnout blow
The ANC increased its margin of victory in a key Tshwane by-election to not only fill a ward vacancy but also show that its voters seem far more motivated than DA voters there. No seats changed hands in the latest round of by-elections as the IFP continued to make headway in KwaZulu-Natal, while the EFF’s recent struggles in KZN extended to Mpumalanga.
Tshwane Ward 105 (Bronkhorstspruit Zithobeni) ANC 55% (42%) DA 28% (27%) EFF 11% (14%) GOOD 3% (<1%) Republican Conference 2% (<1%)
The setting: The outline of Ward 105 resembles that of Wile E. Coyote who is splayed, having been run over by Road Runner. This is a very large ward for an urban province. It has 21 voting stations. It is the Gauteng ward with the most voting stations, and has the fifth-highest number of voting districts in the country. It spreads to the north of Bronkhorstspruit to the nether rural regions of Tshwane which border Mpumalanga, it also extends east of Bronkhorstspruit towards the Mpumalanga border and the farms south of Bronkhorstspruit. However, most voters are in Bronkhorstspruit and Zithobeni. Many of the rural voting stations have only about 1% to 2% of the voting population of this ward. Bronkhorstspruit is east of Pretoria.
The 2021 local government elections: The ANC won Ward 105, but it was a competitive contest. It won 16 of the 21 voting districts and the DA four, while they tied in one district. Four of the voting districts account for just under 50% of the voters in the ward. In the two largest Zithobeni voting districts, the ANC had to deal with the EFF getting 24% and 37% of the vote respectively. The ANC won 68% and 56%. The party’s firewall in Ward 105 was Sokhulumi village, northwest of Bronkhorstspruit. Here the ANC won 80% of the vote, and turnout was 49%, higher than the average poll of 47%. The DA won only one of the big four voting districts, taking the Laerskool Du Preez Van Wyk station in Bronkhorstspruit with 56%. The Freedom Front Plus (FF+) ate into the large DA majority here with 26%.
The FF+ came fourth in the ward with 11% of the vote. ActionSA was fifth with 3% and the African Christian Democratic Party garnered 2%.
No party won an outright majority in Tshwane. The ANC was once again the most popular party in here, after ceding that title to the DA between 2016 and 2021. However, the DA had an easier path to form a stable coalition, by not being dependent on the EFF – it formed a government with ActionSA, the FF+, ACDP, COPE and the IFP.
The by-election: The ward councillor died in a vehicle accident. The ballot was noticeably smaller, with the FF+, ActionSA and the ACDP all deciding to sit out this by-election.
This is the first by-election in Tshwane since the high council drama. This included Randall Williams agreeing to step down as Tshwane mayor because of coalition discontent. DA MP Cilliers Brink was chosen as the candidate for mayor by the multiparty coalition. This saw COPE speaker Murunwa Makwarelwa having a fallout with the governing coalition and switching sides. Makwarela was elected mayor by secret ballot. This resulted in the speaker position becoming vacant. He was removed as a councillor and lost his mayoral chain. The multiparty coalition licked its wounds and tried to regroup for the election of speaker, agreeing to back the ActionSA candidate. They had the numbers to win the election. However, the secret ballot saw some councillors, including three known ActionSA councillors, betraying their party’s instruction and voting for the African Transformation Movement (ATM) candidate, Mncedi Ndzwanana.
ActionSA expelled the three councillors for working with the Tshwane opposition to destabilise the multiparty coalition.
When it came to electing the mayor, Brink beat the new COPE councillor, Ofentse Molausi, to the mayoral chain. Brink won 109 votes, while 102 councillors voted for Molausi. Tshwane currently has a mayor from the multiparty coalition, but a speaker who is not aligned with them, but rather with the ANC and the EFF.
The ANC retained the seat and narrowed the gap between it and the multiparty coalition by filling this ANC-held seat with another ANC councillor. The party not only surpassed the percentage it got in 2021, but matched what it received in 2016. It came close to beating the DA by a margin of 2:1 in a competitive ward.
Differential turnout was key to this. In many parts of Zithobeni and the village of Sokhulumi, the turnout trumped 2021. In Sokhulumi it went from 49% to 54%. At the Sekgolela Centre voting district in Zithobeni, the most vote-rich part of the ward, it went from 31% to 39%. In the DA stronghold of Laerskool Du Preez Van Wyk, the turnout dropped from 50% to 34%. At the Kaia Manzi Lodge around the Khungwini Dam, it fell sharply from 60% to 26%, while at the Bronkhorstspruit Sports Park in Bester Park, it decreased from 46% to 27%. So, while the DA comfortably won in its strongholds, and was able to gain an additional two voting districts, not enough of its core voters showed up in the by-election.
The ANC was able to improve against the EFF at Sekgolela Centre in Zithobeni. Its support grew from 68% to 74%, while the EFF declined from 24% to 21%. This illustrates why the EFF declined slightly in the ward.
This result will greatly motivate the ANC. It is not just the retention of a metro ward, but the signs are there that at present its voters seem more energised and motivated than opposition voters.
Poll: 38% (47%)
Ward 16 (Carletonville) in Merafong City, West Rand: DA 53% (36%) ANC 31% (28%) EFF 11% (12%) Merafong Agents of Change 5% (6%)
The setting: Carletonville, the seat of power in Merafong City, is a town with a strong tradition of gold mining on the West Rand. It is near the North West border. Ward 16 is in the heart of Carletonville, including much of its business centre. The West Rand also includes Krugersdorp and Randfontein.
The 2021 local government elections: The DA won a close race, beating the ANC by 128 votes. It won both voting districts, with between 36% and 37% of the vote. The ANC won between 29% and 27% and the EFF between 10% and 13%. The FF+ made good inroads in the ward. In 2016 it won 3% of the vote, which grew to 16% in 2021. This saw the DA fall from 45% to 36% in the ward. The local party Merafong Agents of Change (MAOC) ate into the ANC’s support as the latter’s returns declined from 38% to 28%, and the MAOC finished fifth in the ward with 6% of the vote.
The ANC lost its outright majority in the municipality and had to form a coalition to continue governing in Merafong City. The party fell one seat short of an outright majority.
The by-election: The ward councillor resigned after he sought election in an open Mogale City seat. The third-placed party from 2021, the FF+, sat out this by-election, in a seemingly significant boost to the DA. The DA did, however, raise concerns about irregularities over the voter registration weekend, claiming that the ANC and the EFF ferried voters in to register in the ward.
In 2022, the ANC won a by-election in Merafong City in convincing fashion, when an independent seat became vacant. This allowed the party to gain outright control of Merafong City. This by-election presented an opportunity for the party to once again make its mark in Merafong City.
The FF+’s decision to miss the by-election gave the DA more buffer. The DA was able to slightly outperform the combined DA and FF+ percentage total of 52% from 2021. The ANC made gains in the smaller Carlton Jones school voting district where it climbed from 29% to 38%. The DA prevailed in the end by 232 votes in this competitive ward.
Poll: 28% (42%)
The district is in northern KwaZulu-Natal. Its seat of power is in Dundee and includes the IFP stronghold of Msinga. It also includes Nquthu and the municipality hosting this key by-election – uMvoti.
Ward 6 (Emakhabeleni Vukaphansi) in uMvoti, Umzinyathi: IFP 51% (47%) ANC 34% (32%) ABC 14% (19%) EFF 1% (<1%)
The setting: Ward 6 is a rural ward northwest of the seat of uMvoti, Greytown. It is on the border of Nkandla and the district of King Cetshwayo. Much of the ward is in areas overseen by the Amakhabela Tribal Authority. The ward has numerous villages in it.
The 2021 local government elections: The IFP won this safe ward off the ANC. The ANC lost ground to both the IFP and PG Mavundla’s Abantu Batho Congress (ABC). It fell from 59% on the ward ballot to 32%. The IFP grew from 35% to 47%. The ANC was still able to win the most populous voting district in the ward, the Gcotoyi High School district, which is around the village of Emakhabaleni, north of Kranskop. The IFP won seven voting districts and the ANC three, while the parties tied in another district.
The ANC lost its outright majority in uMvoti as it finished on 10 seats, down from 15. The IFP also lost ground here, losing two seats to finish on nine. Who took these combined seven seats off the ANC and the IFP? The ABC. The DA won a single seat in the 27-seat council. The IFP, ABC and the DA worked together to elect an IFP mayor in uMvoti.
The by-election: The IFP ward councillor resigned. The election comes on the back of not only the EFF turning its back on the IFP, but the ABC as well. The ANC and the ANC have the numbers to oust the IFP mayor in uMvoti. Both were aiming for the 1-2 combination of first usurping this ward from the IFP and then prying the mayoral chain from its grasp, with PG Mavundla, the ABC leader touted as the possible replacement. He is a former mayor of uMvoti.
In the end, the IFP crept above the 50% mark to retain the ward. The party lost one voting district to the ABC, but managed an outright win in a voting district where in 2021 there was a tie with the ANC. In 2021, both the IFP and ANC won 44% of the vote, with the ABC getting 10%. In this by-election the ABC remained on 10%, while the IFP obtained 54%, up from 44%, and the ANC moved down the ladder from 44% to 34%.
It also won the Vukaphani Primary School district off the ANC. This is where the third-highest number of votes were cast in this large ward on Wednesday. Here there was a big shift to the IFP as it went from 28% to 64%, with the ANC falling from 51% to 30% and the ABC from 20% to 4%. The ANC got its best result at Osizweni School in Dimani, surging from 53% to 71%, as the IFP shrank from 44% to 27%
Poll: 52% (59%)
There were two by-elections in this district. The council chambers are in Ulundi. Other municipalities here are eDumbe (Paulpietersburg) and uPhongola (Pongolo). Nongoma and Vryheid are also part of this Northern KwaZulu-Natal district.
Ward 12 (eMondlo B Kromellenboog) in AbaQulusi: ANC 52% (58%) IFP 46% (34%) EFF 1% (3%) NAPF 1% (DNC)
The setting: AbaQulusi is centred on the town of Vryheid and also includes eMondlo and Louwsburg.
Ward 12 is south and southeast of Vryheid. It is mostly rural and spread out, with eight voting districts. However, about 40% of the voters in the ward are in eMondlo-B at one voting station (Isolomuzi Secondary School).
The 2021 local government elections: While the ANC suffered many setbacks in KwaZulu-Natal in 2021, Ward 12 in AbaQulusi was not one of them. The ANC won this seat off the IFP, moving from 44% to 58%, as the IFP slumped from 50% to 34%. The ANC won six of the eight voting districts and the IFP took the rest. This included winning the two largest districts comfortably.
Read more in Daily Maverick: ANC and Patriotic Alliance give DA the Barrydale blues with second Western Cape defeat
The IFP emerged as the biggest party in AbaQulusi, winning 21 of the 45 seats in the council. The ANC fell sharply from 22 seats to 14. The National Freedom Party (NFP) was third with four, while the EFF won three, the DA two and the FF+ one. The EFF, DA and FF+ backed the IFP’s mayoral candidate, who won the mayoral chain.
The by-election: The ward councillor died in a car accident. The election comes against the backdrop of the EFF walking away from the IFP, which makes the IFP’s control of the mayoral chain more tenuous. The IFP mayor was recently suspended for making improper remarks about females.
The ANC held on here by 160 votes as the IFP made gains in the ward. The IFP won the most populous voting district in eMondlo-B, going from 32% to 54% while the ANC dropped from 54% to 42%. However, the turnout in eMondlo-B was at 51%, under the polling average of 56% and well under the 65% turnout in Kromellenboog where the second-largest number of voters reside. At Kromellenboog, the ANC’s percentage vote share declined from 67% to 60% while the IFP grew from 31% to 40%. The ANC won six of the eight voting districts, as it took the small Kandaspunt voting district off the IFP.
Poll: 56% (54%)
Ward 11 (Bugwini Ngolotshe) in Nongoma: IFP 55% (58%) ANC 19% (25%) Action SA 10% (DNC) Ind-Ntshangase 7% APEMO 4% (<1%) EFF 3% (4%) PA 2% (DNC) ILP <1% (DNC)
The setting: This is a rural ward, south of the town of Nongoma. It borders the Hluhluwe-iMfolozi Park. This ward sits between the R618 road which links Nongoma with Mtubatuba and the R66 which links Nongoma with Ulundi. It contains many villages. Nongoma Municipality is largely centred on the town with the same name.
The 2021 local government elections: The IFP swept all six voting districts in the ward, and won this ward with relative ease. The party lost its outright majority in Nongoma, winning 21 of the 45 seats. The NFP became the official opposition with 13, as the ANC lost much ground to only win eight. The EFF won two and the National People’s Front one. The EFF backed the IFP, with Albert Mncwango, a party heavyweight, winning the mayoral chain.
The by-election: The previous ward councillor died. The IFP also lost a seat here to the NFP in early 2022, which meant it could not simply rely on the EFF, but also needed the backing of the National People’s Front. When the EFF walked out on the IFP, Mncwango’s days seemed to be numbered. The IFP has turned to the courts and used other mechanisms to stall motions of no confidence in the mayor, and an opportunity for the NFP, ANC and EFF to come together to elect a mayor from the NFP. This by-election was unlikely to change the configuration of the council but could be used to interpret what residents of Nongoma think of the big three parties in Nongoma.
This was also ActionSA’s first by-election in the province. A rural ward in northern KwaZulu-Natal is on the surface, not where one would expect ActionSA to contest a KZN by-election for the first time. However, it must be remembered that this is where provincial leader Zwelakhe Mncwango hails from.
The IFP held its own in the by-election, sweeping all six voting districts and with a wider percentage gap between it and the ANC, although it did lose a little ground. Due to a turnout differential, Ngolotshe Primary School in Ngolotshe had the most voters. Here the IFP’s vote share fell from 62% to 53%, but the ANC’s vote share declined too, from 29% to 24%. Independent Mlindeleli Ntshangase obtained 8%, with the Patriotic Alliance (PA) getting 6% in the district. The independent and the PA’s returns best account for the shifts in this district
ActionSA had a credible third place, winning 10% of the vote. It managed 16% and 18% in two of the six voting districts.
In concluding the analysis of KwaZulu-Natal, there were no wild swings towards the IFP in this round of by-elections. However, the party will still be the most satisfied. The ANC will be chuffed about AbaQulusi, and ActionSA will be happy with third place in Nongoma. Despite the ABC winning a voting district, it and the EFF have more work to do in KZN.
Poll: 53% (52%)
There were five by-elections scheduled for Mpumalanga, four of which were in Gert Sibande, three in Mkhondo and one in Dipalaseng (Balfour).
The Gert Sibande District covers the southern part of Mpumalanga and a good chunk of the centre of the province. Its seat of power is in Ermelo and includes Standerton and Secunda.
The setting: Mkhondo Municipality’s principal town is eMkhondo (formerly Piet Retief). It includes the small towns of Amsterdam and Dirkiesdorp, and also borders Eswatini. Mkhondo is timber country, and has a few mines as well.
The 2021 local government elections: The ANC won an outright majority in Mkhondo but lost eight of its 29 seats to end on 21 in the 39-seat municipality. It lost ground to the EFF and independent candidates. The EFF more than doubled its seat allocation – from three to seven – to become the official opposition in Mkhondo. Independents won two wards in the municipality.
Despite the ANC winning a clear majority in 2021, independent councillor Mthokozi Simelane was elected mayor, with the ATM bagging the speaker position. There was much rancour within the ANC, and this factionalism resulted in the party not uniting behind one candidate for mayor. This saw six ANC councillors refusing to participate in the election of the mayor, which allowed Simelane to get in via the back door. The six – former mayor Vusi Motha and five ward councillors – were expelled from the council. The ANC won all five seats in the December by-elections. This allowed it to elect an ANC mayor and an ANC speaker since it now not only had a majority but also a caucus which followed instructions.
The by-elections: Because there were another three by-elections in Mkhondo, the ANC had to win one of the three wards to keep an outright majority. If it lost two or more wards it would need to form a coalition to retain control of Mkhondo. The party has won six consecutive by-elections in Mkhondo since the 2021 local government elections. It had high hopes of going nine for nine in the Mkhondo by-elections.
All three by-elections were held because of the resignation of councillors, none of whom contested for other parties.
The ANC swept all three wards and was able to go nine for nine in Mkhondo by-elections since 2021. It was comfortable in Ward 2 and Ward 19, but Ward 1 was tricky. Independent candidate Siyabonga Mncube gave the ANC a fright here as he blunted the ANC and EFF with his credible third-place finish on 27%. This was well up from the 11% Mncube received in 2021. The ANC hovered close to the 80% mark as its percentage returns increased in Ward 19 around the town of Amsterdam. The IFP beat the EFF to second place in the two Mkhondo wards it contested on Wednesday. The IFP finished well off the ANC’s pace but will be content with these non-KwaZulu-Natal gains.
Ward 5 (Grootvlei) in Dipaleseng: ANC 70% (49%) PA 20% (DNC) EFF 20% (16%)
The setting: Grootvlei is south of Balfour, the seat of Dipaleseng. It is near the N3 highway and next to the Gauteng border. Dipaleseng borders the Free State and Gauteng. Its towns include Greylingstad and Amersfoort. It hosts the large Grootvlei power station and one of the largest abattoirs in the country and is also known for coal mining.
The 2021 local government elections: The ANC won less than 50% of the vote here, but no opposition party won more than 20%, with the EFF finishing second with 16%, the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) pipping the DA for third place with 15% and the DA getting 14%. The FF+ won three of the six voting districts, the ANC two and the DA one. The ANC won the ward by winning the Grootvlei Extension 1 (Tshepeha Combined School) voting district by a large margin. This is where most of the voters are.
The ANC won 8/12 seats in Dipaleseng. The EFF became the official opposition by winning two seats, taking one off the ANC. The DA and FF+ won a single seat each, with the DA losing its status as the official opposition.
The by-election: The veteran ward councillor for Ward 5 died after a long illness. Both the FF+ and the DA sat out this by-election. The ANC and the EFF were joined by the PA on the ballot.
The ANC romped home here. Tshepeha Secondary School in Grootvlei Extension 1 is indicative of how the ANC achieved this result. The ward has six voting districts, but more than 45% of the voters in the ward reside in Grootvlei Extension 1. The turnout was considerably higher here compared with the other five voting districts. The ANC also attracted a very big slice of the voter pie. It took 85% of Grootvlei Extension 1, compared with 69% in 2021. The EFF lost more than half of its support here, receding from 18% to 8%, with the PA getting 7%.
The turnout was low in some of the smaller voting districts, which produced some unique results. In the rural voting district of Mount Hermon only six voters turned up, all of whom voted for the Patriotic Alliance which won 100% of the vote. At the Ohlangeni Farm School voting district not one voter turned up. It must have been a long, angst-filled day for the party agents and Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officials here. At least everyone knew that they did not have to hang around for the count.
The PA won the second-most-populous voting district – Grootvlei Eskom Hall. The PA took 50% of the vote. However, only 26% of registered voters turned up, down from 36% in 2021 when the FF+ pipped the ANC in a close race.
Poll: 33% (42%)
The Nkangala District covers much of Mpumalanga’s coal country. Its seat of power is in Middelburg. It also includes eMalahleni, Siyabuswa and Belfast. There are six municipalities in the district.
Ward 4 (Botleng) in Victor Khanye: ANC 50% (59%) Ind-Gamede 32% EFF 13% (11%) AVPP 5% (27%).
The setting: Botleng is just north of Delmas, to the right of the R42 road. It is near the Gauteng border en route to Bronkhorstspruit. Delmas is the seat of power in Victor Khanye. It is part of the Mpumalanga maize belt and is also known for its potatoes.
The 2021 local government elections: A regional party, the African Voice Progressive Party (AVPP), won more than a quarter of the vote in Botleng to finish second and also bring the ANC under 60% in the ward. The latter won both voting districts here.
The ANC lost two seats in Victor Khanye in 2021. It won nine of the 17 seats, with the AVPP finishing second with three. The DA also won three, losing a seat to the FF+, while the EFF lost a seat to win a single seat. The AVPP’s three seats were essentially two seats from the ANC and one from the EFF.
The by-election: The ward councillor died. The ANC had to retain the seat to keep its outright majority in Victor Khanye. It was joined on the ballot by the AVPP and the EFF.
The ANC retained the ward but fell to the 50% mark. An independent candidate, Joseph Gamede, surged to second place by cutting the AVPP down to size and winning over some ANC voters to obtain just under one-third of the ward vote. The ANC was still able to carry the two Botleng voting districts. It had to work hard to carry the Mdumiseni School voting district, which had the most voters on the day, with the ANC finishing on 47%, down from 63% in 2021. Gamede won 41%. The AVPP was the big loser in this district as its support collapsed from 21% to 2%.
Poll: 40% (49%)
It was a very good night for the ANC in Mpumalanga, while the IFP, some independents and the PA will be happy with their returns. The EFF and AVPP will not be satisfied with the results out of Mpumalanga.
The next round of by-elections will be on 26 April, when the Free State will have its first by-election since the 2021 local government elections. There will also be two in KwaZulu-Natal and one in the Western Cape. DM