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MAY BY-ELECTIONS

ANC, DA reassert dominance with big wins in KZN and Gauteng

ANC, DA reassert dominance with big wins in KZN and Gauteng
Campaigning was in full swing for the by-election in Chatsworth ward 73 on 23 May 2023. It was striking that no party with strong ties to the Indian community stood in the by-election. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

The ANC and DA retained their respective seats in the latest round of by-elections. The DA will be emboldened by its convincing win in Chatsworth, Durban and after fending off the Freedom Front Plus in Gauteng, while the ANC was rock-solid in Mandeni, KwaZulu-Natal.

Gauteng

Ward 25 (Bredell Brentwood Park) Ekurhuleni: DA 66% (70%) FF+ 19% (9%) EFF 11% (2%) ANC 3% (8%)  ICM 1% (1%)

The setting: This is the largest ward in Ekurhuleni. It is in the northeastern part of the metro and it extends to the border of Tshwane near Bronkhorstspruit and also borders Mpumalanga. There are many plots and smallholdings in this ward. Most of the voters in the ward straddle the R23 road which links Benoni with the R21 road. Areas in the ward include Bredel which is part of the Kempton Park area of Ekurhuleni. Brentwood Park and Petit are more associated with Benoni and have the second- and third-highest number of voters. It was this part of the ward where Charlize Theron lived for a while during her Benoni years. The vast districts of Bapsfontein and Elandsfontein are known for farming. Serengeti and Eastlands are upmarket estates which complete the ward. There are relatively fewer voters in these two districts. However, many of the voters are concentrated around residential estates and turnout tends to be far higher here than in the other parts of the ward. 

The 2021 local government elections: The DA beat the FF+ by more than 4,800 votes in Ward 25 on the ward ballot. However, it was less of a landslide on the proportional ballot (PR) where the margin was just above 4,300 votes. The FF+ won 14% of the PR vote, 5% higher than what it achieved on the ward ballot.  The DA won every voting district in the ward. The party did best in the Eastlands Lifestyle voting district. While this part of the ward only has 3% of the voters in the ward, 92% of the registered voters showed up here. This is in stark contrast with the most competitive district in the ward, which was around Bapsfontein. It was neck-and-neck between the DA and the ANC here, but less than 40% of the voters showed up. The DA breached the 70% mark in all three of the most vote-rich parts of the ward. 

The by-election: The ward councillor resigned. The DA had a comfortable win but did have to contend with the FF+ making good inroads in part of this vast ward. The FF+ was, however, unable to replicate its growth in places such as Bredell and Brentwood Park in other parts of the ward. In places like Bapsfontein, Elandsfontein and Eastlands, the results for the DA and the FF+ were all but a carbon copy of the 2021 results. In Bredell, the DA’s vote share declined from 70% to 61% while the FF+ moved from 17% to 27%. In Brentwood Park, on the Benoni side of the ward, the FF+ almost doubled its percentage support as its vote share went from 13% to 25% while the DA dipped from 72% to 66%. 

The EFF will be pleased with a third-place finish. The party came second in Elandsfontein, climbing from 4% to 26%. It also came second in Petit with 15% of the vote. The ANC struggled in the by-election. In Elandsfontein, its percentage vote share crashed from 30% to 1% and in Bapsfontein it went from 19% to 12%. 

Poll: 26% (51%)

Ward 8 (Heidelberg Rensburg) in Lesedi, Sedibeng: DA 52% (51%) FF+ 25% (30%) ANC 16% (13%) EFF 6% (4%)

The setting: The ward has two distinct voting districts. Rensburg is south of the Heidelberg town centre and is predominantly an Afrikaans-speaking area. Just under 60% of its voters reside here. Shalimar Ridge is southwest of the town centre and is more diverse. It has just more than 40% of the voters in the ward. Most of the voters in Lesedi are congregated around Heidelberg. Lesedi also includes the small town of Devon and forms part of Sedibeng in the southern part of Gauteng. Sedibeng includes Vanderbijlpark and Meyerton. 

The 2021 local government elections: The DA was given a scare in the ward. It beat the FF+ by 500 votes. The party won 58% of the vote in Rensburg with the FF+ garnering an impressive 35%. In Shalimar Ridge, it was a three-horse race with the DA getting 40%, the ANC 28% and the FF+ 23%. There was a turnout differential in the ward, with 58% of voters in Rensburg turning out, and only 47% of Shalimar Ridge showing up at the polls. 

The by-election: The ward councillor resigned. The DA made a slight improvement on its 2021 showing, and in turn beat the FF+ by a wider margin when compared with the local government elections. The DA achieved this by beating the FF+ in Rensburg by a margin of 31%, compared with 23% in 2021. The FF+ also could not replicate its showing in Shalimar Ridge. The party lost the most footing in this more competitive voting district, with both the ANC and EFF making some gains. The DA won Shalimar Ridge by 8%, down from the 12% difference between it and the ANC in the local government elections.

The turnout differential was interesting in this ward. In the local government elections Rensburg had 56% turnout, while Shalimar Ridge had 47%. In the by-election, 34% of Shalimar Ridge turned out, compared with only 30% in Rensburg. The DA and the FF+ will want the voters of Rensburg to be more energised for the national elections in 2024. 

Poll: 32% (52%)

KwaZulu-Natal

Ward 73 (Chatsworth Croftdene) in eThekwini: DA 82% (67%) ANC 18% (10%) EFF <1% (<1%) 

The setting: Chatsworth is a historically Indian area in Durban, southwest of the city centre. Ward 73 is the heart of Chatsworth, below the Westcliff part of the suburb. It also includes Arena Park, Montford and Risecliff. 

The 2021 local government elections: The DA won by a landslide here. The ANC was the only other party to reach double figures. This used to be a Minority Front (MF) area but the party is a shadow of its former self. The DA carried every voting district, doing best in Risecliff where it won 77% of the vote. Crest View Primary School in Arena Park was the most competitive district, with the DA getting 54% and the ANC 23%. 

The by-election: DA councillor Ronnie Pillay quit the party after accusing it of not doing anything about allegations of corruption reported to the party structures. The DA accused Pillay of truancy. Pillay defected to the ANC and was on the ballot for the party in the by-election. He was hoping to win his fifth consecutive ward election in Chatsworth. He has been a regular feature and fixture of Chatsworth politics, having won ward elections here for the MF and the DA. President Cyril Ramaphosa campaigned with Pillay in the ward. It is striking that neither the MF nor any other party with strong ties to the Indian community stood in this by-election.

Read more in Daily Maverick: Party-switching candidate confident of winning Durban’s Chatsworth Ward 73 for ANC

The DA won the by-election by a landslide by breaking through the 80% barrier. It was a convincing hold in a community that is under-polled. This is a good indicator for the DA on the road to the national elections. However, the ANC did have some good success, especially in Croftdene. Four of the nine voting districts in the ward are in Croftdene and the ANC made some impressive marks in the area. It went from 6% to 27% in the Sunbeam Primary School area. It moved from 9% to 28% at Witteklip Secondary School, and from 9% to 25% at Astra Primary School. 

The DA surged in the Arena Park part of the ward. At Arena Park Secondary School, it jumped from 65% to 90%, and at Meadowlands Secondary School its share went from 69% to 83%. Its peak was at Crestview Primary School, moving from 54% to 92%. 

The party also rose at Risecliff Secondary School in Risecliff, from 77% to 92%. 

Ward 73 by-election campaining in Chatsworth, south of Durban, on Tuesday. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

It is not the DA or the ANC’s fault that no other parties with strong ties to the Indian community were on the ballot. The DA won with a big majority here and will have confidence about having the inside lane with Indian voters on the road to 2024. At the same time, the ANC will go back and study what contributed to its growth in Croftdene and how that can possibly be replicated in other parts of Chatsworth, and also in Phoenix and Overport. 

Poll: 27% (48%)

Ward 15 (Sundumbili) Mandeni in iLembe: ANC 68% (70%) IFP 18% (16%) EFF 14% (8%)

The setting: Sundumbili is north of Mandeni, next to the Tugela River. Mandeni municipality is part of the iLembe district and is sandwiched between KwaDukuza and uMlalazi (eShowe) in the north of KwaZulu-Natal. Mandeni includes the Tugela River Mouth. 

The 2021 local government elections: The ANC won Ward 15 by a country mile. It had a slightly harder time in the more vote-rich of the two voting districts in the ward, winning 63% at Sundumbili Primary School. The party won just under 80% of the vote at Thukela Senior Secondary. 

The ANC did, however, lose six seats in Mandeni where it fell from 25 to 19 seats in the 35-seat council. Those were lost equally to the IFP and the EFF who won an additional three seats each. The IFP grew from seven seats to 10 and the EFF from one to four. The DA and the African Independent Congress (AIC) make up the balance of the seats with one each.

The red berets campaign in Chatsworth’s Ward 73 on Tuesday. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

The by-election: The ward councillor died. The ANC, IFP and EFF all threw their hats into the ring. The ANC all but replicated its 2021 returns. In this part of Mandeni, and this part of the province, the party remains dominant. It will be most encouraged by this result as the IFP’s gains were very slight. The EFF will be happy with its growth at the Thukela Senior Secondary district where it went from 4% to 13%. 

Poll: 36% (40%)

Ward 12 (Rietvlei Mbuzweni) in Umzimkhulu, Harry Gwala: ANC 66% (79%) IFP 25% (1%) EFF 9% (14%)

The setting: Ward 12 includes the villages of Rietvlei, Mbuzweni and Vimbane, all of which sit next to the R56 road which links the town of Umzimkhulu with the N2 national road. Most voters live in villages just next to the R56, but there are some in deep rural areas south of Umzimkhulu town. Umzimkhulu has an almost even spread of Zulu and Xhosa speakers. The municipality is in the southern part of KwaZulu-Natal, forming part of the Harry Gwala District which includes Kokstad, Ixopo and Underberg. 

The 2021 local government elections: Umzimkhulu is the heartland of ANC support in KwaZulu-Natal. It is where it achieved its highest percentage on the KZN municipal ballot in 2021, getting 76% of the vote. However, it did lose five seats, falling from 38 to 33 in the 43-seat chamber. The EFF grew from two seats to six. An independent ward councillor, the IFP, DA and AIC all have a seat each to make up the remaining numbers in the council. The IFP is traditionally weak in Umzimkhulu.

Harry Gwala is also the only district in the province where the ANC won more than 60% of the vote. It won 65% here, way ahead of its next-best showing in the province – 52% in uMgungundlovu, the district which includes Pietermaritzburg. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: EFF records famous victory over ANC in Free State as IFP turns tables on ruling party in KZN

With regards to Ward 12, the ANC won every district by a landslide, obtaining between 72% and 94% of the vote in the seven voting districts. 

The by-election: The previous ward councillor died. The ANC won easily here, beating the IFP by 811 votes. However, it lost ground in all seven voting districts. In 2021, the party got more than 80% of the vote in three of the districts and more than 90% in two of the districts. In the by-election it was only able to get more than 70% in two districts, peaking at 78% at Jirah Primary School.

The IFP has not been at the recent Umzimkhulu electoral races. It performed admirably in this by-election, growing from a paltry 1% to 25%. It beat the EFF in six of the seven voting districts. In Vimbane, the IFP went from 1% to 43%. At Bombasi Junior Secondary, it climbed from 1% to 31%. The IFP will analyse this result and think about how to continue to make incisions into the ANC’s Harry Gwala district fortress

Poll: 52% (50%)

The next round of by-elections is on 14 June when the ANC will defend a competitive seat in KwaZulu-Natal and two seats in the Eastern Cape. DM

Gallery

Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • David Walker says:

    Wonderful to see the IFP growing from 1 to 25% in Umzimkhulu Ward 12. Perhaps there is a chance that KZN can begin their liberation from ANC corruption in 2024?

    • Johan Buys says:

      from casual notice of by-elections, it seems the trend is EFF reducing %, IFP increasing %, ANC decreasing and DA + FF holding or increasing. Pity there are not more parties in these by-elections, but what chances for a grand coalition IFP + DA + FF + ActionSA + Good + others? Basically all run on a message of Anybody But ANC EFF RET

    • jcdville stormers says:

      Great DA and IFP

  • rmrobinson says:

    Can anyone explain to me why and how the ANC manages to garner 1 vote?

    • Dennis Bailey says:

      Absolutely.

    • Dennis Bailey says:

      In the end, we get what we voted for, and those who didn’t can’t bellyache about poor service delivery.

    • Michael Clark says:

      The question puzzles me to. Clearly voting for starvation, unemployment and plenty of corruption for the self enriching few at Lootfreely House is still quite popular.

    • Alan Jeffrey says:

      SA’s greatest and most depressing mystery of all time!! The single and most urgent task of the media and opposition must be to spread the extent and nature of the ANC’s criminal outrages to the millions of poverty stricken voters who have been betrayed by this once proud political institution. I would erect huge billboards throughout the land with photos displaying their vulgar lifestyle of flash cars and disgustingly expensive bottles of champagne used to wash their dirty hands. I saw one driving a 3 million rand 4×4 the other day and thought how this one relatively tiny item could gift 3000 poor families with a thousand rand to ease their plight. I cannot find any more polite words….

    • Penelope Meyer says:

      In my view it is more a rural problem where the loyalty to chiefs is unwavering and the chiefs tell people how to vote based on what they can get out of it. It is a total misunderstanding of the democratic system, with people not being educated that their vote is private and that there cannot be repercussions. Of course, there is no effort to promote voter education here.

  • Easy Does It says:

    IF the FF+ moved from 9% to 19% and predominantly a white voter base, then an increase of 10% to 19% it suggests that 1 in 5 whites in Brentwood Park lean to the right wing. Equally interesting is the drop of the DA from 70% to 68%, the gains being white voters moving across from the DA. A similar picture is replicating itself in Bredell 27% leaning right and 25% for Heidelberg. One in 4 whites lean right in theses areas. This in a day when it is difficult a find a person who would say they supported the NP and apartheid gives no credence to that claim. Perhaps food for thought for the DA on where the future of the white vote lies unless they become just another right leaning party for the minority. A small policy shift to the left and black leadership will be key – even before the 2024 elections.

  • Bill Haslam says:

    Thanks Daily Maverick for a comprehensive report!

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