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UPDATED: DA dashes party-switching candidate’s hopes of winning Durban’s Chatsworth Ward 73 for ANC

UPDATED: DA dashes party-switching candidate’s hopes of winning Durban’s Chatsworth Ward 73 for ANC
ANC ward candidate Ronnie Pillay (centre right) with supporters during the Chatsworth ward 73 by-election campaign. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

The battle for Chatsworth’s Ward 73 was one of the highlights of the municipal by-elections taking place across South Africa on Wednesday.

The importance of Wednesday’s by-election in Chatsworth’s Ward 73  was underscored by the arrival in Chatsworth at the weekend of President Cyril Ramaphosa and other top ANC leaders, who came to drum up support and welcome dozens of former DA members to the ANC.  

The ward is in the heart of Chatsworth, Durban. In the 2016 census, there were 51,151 people in Chatsworth — 48.7% were male and 51.3% were female.

The suburb is a predominantly Indian area in which the ANC has struggled to attract voters, while the DA has been growing there, especially after the slow demise of the Minority Front.

chatsworth by-election

Campaigning was in full swing on Tuesday in Chatsworth ward 73. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

The by-election was called after DA councillor Ronnie Pillay resigned from the party and joined the ANC. Pillay had held the ward for more than 20 years  — he won it for the first time as a Minority Front member. 

This time around, he was confident that he would win it on the ANC ticket, standing against the DA’s Daniel Logan Mea.

On Tuesday afternoon, Pillay was busy doing his final electioneering. “I know this ward like the back of my hand,” he said. “I grew up in this community and became a leader here. We have fought and won many battles with this community and I will continue to do so even under the ANC.”  

He said he was displeased with the DA members using loudhailers and calling the ANC “rogues who steal money”.

“We don’t need that kind of campaigning,” he said. “I left the DA precisely because they were failing to act against corrupt officials within the party structures.”

chatsworth chetty

DA MP Megan Chetty campaigns in Chatsworth. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

The DA, on the other hand, accused the ANC of busing in people from informal settlements.

Megan Pillay, a DA MP in the National Assembly, who was coordinating the party’s campaign, said: “The community is angry that Ronnie Pillay defected from the DA to the ANC. They will kick him out this time because he comes on the ANC ticket. 

“Everyone in the community knows that it is the ANC government that is responsible for load shedding, it is the ANC government that is failing to deal with high levels of crime, they know it is the ANC-led eThekwini Municipality that is responsible for the potholes, water shortage, for sewage spill into the streets and into the rivers.”

eff chatsworth

EFF candidate Ravanasithan Pillay on the campaign trail in Chatsworth ward 73. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

To the surprise of many, the EFF fielded a candidate in the ward — Ravanasithan Pillay.

Pillay said he had been a long-standing admirer of the party but only recently joined it. “Becoming an EFF candidate has opened my eyes and many other people’s eyes. Some people have perceptions about the EFF and many of these are untrue.” 

Many residents complained about load shedding, crime, drug abuse, falling municipal facilities, potholes and sewage spills.

Rehana Hoosen (38) said her vote was secret, but she wanted change. “We need a councillor who will be there when we need him, not someone who is going come to us to get elected and then disappear,” she said. 

Updated Poll outcome – DA 82% (67%) ANC 18% (10%) EFF <1% (<1%) 

Mandeni Ward 15 

About 128km from Chatsworth, another by-election was taking place, in Mandeni Ward 15, in Sundumbili Township. In the 2016 census, Mandeni had a population of 148,000, 32% of whom were under the age of 15 and 63% between the ages of 15 and 64.

Mandeni Local Municipality made national headlines in March 2019 when infighting within the ruling ANC led to looting in the town and at least three factories being burnt down.

Political parties campaign for votes during the by-election in Ward 15 in Mandeni on Wednesday. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

Ward 15 became vacant after the death of ANC councillor Nkanyiso Nxumalo in February. Nxumalo won the ward by a landslide in the November 2021 elections, and the ward has been held by the ANC since the advent of democratic local government elections. 

But the performance of the ANC in recent by-elections in KwaZulu-Natal has been so disappointing that even the party’s ardent supporters are worried. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: Top brass visit to KwaZulu-Natal signals ANC’s concern over its decline   

On Wednesday, Mathapelo Mazibuko, an ANC branch leader in Sundumbili township, said: “I’m confident we are going to take this one. Our candidate is a strong man who is dedicated to community issues. He is at the forefront of fighting crime and is there when community members need him.”  

Mbali Frazer, the KZN MEC for education, echoed these sentiments, saying: “The ANC will never lose this ward because the people of Sundumbili hate the IFP because the IFP killed their family members during the political violence of the ’80s and ’90s.”

Food parcels

But other political parties accused the ANC of using food parcels to sway voters.

Bongumusa Mchunu, the IFP chief whip in the Mandeni Local Municipality, said: “We found ANC people sneaking in food parcels to the voting station. The IFP, together with the EFF, lodged an objection to the Independent Electoral Commission officials and the food was locked into the room until after the elections.”

Voters at the Ward 15 by-election in Mandeni on Wednesday. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

Mchunu said his party had made inroads. “During our campaign, we spoke to the people of this ward and they said they are not happy about many things. They are not happy about service delivery, they are not happy about the ANC government that is taking away electricity, that is taking away water. People are fed up, that’s why they are coming to the IFP.”

Mbuso Sibiya is the EFF’s candidate. The party’s agents said although they did not expect to win the ward, they aimed to build a mass support base in the ward for future elections.

Siya Mdletshe, an EFF campaign coordinator, said: “The EFF is growing from strength to strength in this area and in all of KwaZulu-Natal. Come to the 2024 general elections, the EFF will surprise many people.”

Voters queue at uThukela Secondary School in Mandeni. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

Political parties campaign during the Ward 15 by-election in Mandeni. (Photo: Phumlani Thabethe)

On Wednesday, voters streamed into the voting station to cast their ballots. One of them was 78-year-old Hitler Sithole, who said, “I was very young when we moved into these matchbox houses; now I am an old man. When we moved here we were promised that the houses will soon belong to us but even now, with the new government, we are still paying rent and rates.”

Londiwe Zondi (33) was wearing her ANC colours as she headed to the Uthukela High School voting station.

“I’m voting for houses, for jobs,” she said. DM

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

Read Wayne Sussman’s analysis of the by-election results: ANC, DA reassert dominance with big wins in KZN and Gauteng


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • R S says:

    ““We don’t need that kind of campaigning,” he said. “I left the DA precisely because they were failing to act against corrupt officials within the party structures.””

    While this may be true, joining the ANC makes no sense considering their levels of corruption. What would have made the most sense was for this man to stand as an independent candidate if he was truly running against corruption.

    Perhaps the ANC managed to whisper some “sweet words” that convinced him to join their party?

  • Fanie Rajesh Ngabiso says:

    Ha ha ha ha! Really Ronnie? You’re moving to the ANC because of concerns about honesty? What a joke.

    Anyone voting ANC should go for an immediate ECG.

  • David Walker says:

    Rather a misleading headline now that it has emerged that the DA received 82% of the vote? And why does the DM continue to give so much oxygen to corrupt ANC politicians? The only topic should be how to get rid of them.

  • rmrobinson says:

    Certainly, vote for the ANC, but then do not complain about: (1) cholera (2) no electricity (3) no government service (4) abuse police etc etc. And do not contact me again for money because you are starving. You either want things to work or not. If the former, follow the rules. If not, suffer the consequences.

Please peer review 3 community comments before your comment can be posted


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