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SEPTEMBER BY-ELECTIONS

ANC swats EFF, UDM and other opposition aside to retain two wards in Mbhashe, Eastern Cape

ANC swats EFF, UDM and other opposition aside to retain two wards in Mbhashe, Eastern Cape
Supporters turn out as the ANC campaigns for the local government elections in Meadowlands, Soweto, on 25 October 2021. (Photo: Gallo Images / Sharon Seretlo)

The ANC easily retained the two wards in Mbhashe in the Amathole District of the Eastern Cape, and also increased its margin of victory in both.

Mbhashe, Amathole District in the Eastern Cape

The setting: Mbhashe is the home municipality of former president Thabo Mbeki. It includes Dutywa, Xora (formerly Elliotdale) and Gatyana (formerly Willowvale). It formed part of the Transkei Bantustan during apartheid. It forms part of the Wild Coast area and includes landmarks such as the Dwesa and Cweba nature reserves. 

The 2021 local government elections: The ANC won almost six times the number of seats won by the largest opposition party, taking 45, slightly down from 47 in 2016, while the United Democratic Movement (UDM) obtained eight, one down from 2016. The EFF made good strides in Mbhashe to claim third place, doubling its tally from two to four seats. The remaining six council seats were filled by entities that won only one seat. They include an independent ward councillor. The Mbhashe council grew from a total of 61 seats to 63 in 2021.

Ward 1 (Dutywa Central, Govan Mbeki) in Mbhashe, Amathole: ANC 70% (65%) EFF 11% (12%) Ind-Tonise 11% ATM 4% (5%) UDM 4% (10%) PAC <1% (2%)

The setting: Ward 1 is in the heart of the seat of Mbhashe. It encompasses the town centre of Dutywa and includes Govan Mbeki, just east of the administrative centre. Dutywa sits on the N2 national road between Butterworth and Mthatha.

The 2021 local government elections: The ANC won close to two-thirds of the vote in the ward, with the EFF edging the UDM for second place. Only 24% of the registered voters turned up at the Dutywa Town Hall, where about 66% of the registered voters in the ward cast their vote. 

The by-election: The ward councillor resigned. The ANC, EFF and UDM were joined on the ballot by the African Transformation Movement (ATM), the Pan Africanist Congress of Azania (PAC) and an independent candidate, Luleka Tonise. 

The ANC was dominant in retaining this ward, in which the Govan Mbeki part was key to its success. More voters showed up in Govan Mbeki than at the Dutywa Town Hall. The party also grew from 61% to 76%. The EFF declined from 15% to 12%, while the UDM fell from 6% to 1% in the district. The ANC also grew at the Swendu Café voting district in Auckland village. This is the most rural part of the ward and does not contain many voters. The ruling party grew from 67% to 75%, mainly at the expense of the UDM. 

Only 13% of voters turned up at the Dutywa Town Hall. This was the main contributing factor to the disappointing overall turnout in the ward. Independent candidate Luleka Tonise hurt all the other parties bar the EFF with her 19% haul in this district. The ANC declined from 67% to 60%. The EFF remained steady on 10%, with the UDM receding from 13% to 8%. 

Poll: 21% (31%)

Ward 2 (Sheshegu eMamfeneni) in Mbhashe, Amathole: ANC 69% (66%) UDM 14% (12%) EFF 13% (9%) ATM 3% (5%)

The setting: This is a more rural ward, south of Dutywa. It straddles the N2 national road between Dutywa and Butterworth.

The 2021 local government elections: The ANC did marginally better here compared with Ward 1, winning 66% of the vote. It won eight of the nine voting districts in the ward, while the UDM secured the remaining voting district, Mcitwa Senior Primary School, which was the only close contest in the ward. The result there also explains how the UDM beat the EFF to second place in the ward.

The by-election: Councillor Mzikayise Saki was walking home from a tavern with his girlfriend when he was brutally strangled. His girlfriend was taken to an abandoned building near the local stadium and raped. Saki’s uncle and cousin were arrested for the crimes and have been remanded in custody. 

The ANC, UDM, EFF and ATM were on the ballot for the by-election. The ANC won more than two-thirds majority support in the ward. It was able to carry eight of the nine voting districts again, with the UDM retaining the Mcitwa Senior Primary School district. The ANC did best at TS Matsiliza School in the Goodhope area of Ngxakaxa. This is where most of the votes were cast in the by-election. The party surged from 59% to 92%. This was at the expense of Congress of the People (COPE), which was not on the ballot, the ATM and the UDM. Both parties collapsed here, barely registering any votes in the district. The ANC won 87% of the vote at Ngonyama School, slightly up on its 2021 returns. It also won 88% at the Bonkolo Senior Secondary School, up from 79% in 2021. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: ANC chalks up commanding Eastern Cape victories, DA romps home in Bryanston

The UDM came second by increasing its percentage returns at Mcitwa Senior Primary, winning 56% of the vote, up from 52% in 2021. This pocket of support was key to the party holding off the EFF for second place. The UDM also grew in the ANC stronghold of Upper Qora School, winning 18%, up from the 4% it obtained in 2021. It also more than quadrupled its percentage support at the sparsely populated Gqukesi Methodist Church, moving from 6% to 26%. Its growth in these two districts was mostly at the expense of the ANC.

The EFF doubled its support at Mamfeneni Junior School in Lusizini, jumping from 20% to 40%. It also doubled its support at Flower Junior School in Ngxakaxa, by moving from 8% to 16%. It took support away from the ANC in these two districts. However, it could not replicate this impressive growth in the seven other voting districts. 

Poll: 40% (47%)

Up Next

The next round of by-elections is on 27 September when the ANC will defend four seats. It includes a by-election in uMhlatuze, KwaZulu-Natal, two in North West and one in Limpopo. DM

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