ANC snatches back seats in KZN, Mpumalanga as independent candidate hoovers up votes from an array of parties
The ANC won back two seats, including a key seat in eThekwini. It was expected to win it back from the DA, but the margin of victory was especially significant. The ANC also won back a seat in Thaba Chweu, Mpumalanga – a historically safe seat that had been lost to a local party. The Freedom Front Plus lost a seat in Lekwa (Standerton), Mpumalanga to the incumbent ward councillor who ran as an independent. The DA also comfortably retained a safe seat in Ekurhuleni.
Ward 9 (Molweni Hillcrest), eThekwini: ANC 70% (34%) DA 28% (35%) EFF 1% (3%) ARA <1% Proportional Representation (PR) ANC (43%) DA (35%) EFF (5%)
The setting: Ward 9 is part of the Valley of a Thousand Hills area. It is west and northwest of the Durban city centre and has 10 voting districts. The most populous district is where the DA draws most of its support. It is in the Waterfall suburb of Hillcrest. There are six voting districts in the Molweni township area. Molweni sits right by the uMngeni River. There are three more districts in the ward – Wushini, which is below the Inanda Dam, Emdimeni and KwaNqetho, just north of Waterfall.
The 2021 local government elections: When the DA assessed its returns the day after the 2021 local government elections it would have been looking for things to cheer about. In KwaZulu-Natal, Chris Pappas was on track to become mayor of uMngeni. There was another surprising result in eThekwini. The DA had taken Ward 9 from the ANC. This was a traditional ANC ward, and somehow the DA had won it off the ruling party. An independent candidate, Thembinkosi Ngcobo, played a big role in the DA winning this ward. He won 17% of the vote and more than half of his votes came from ANC supporters. This saw the DA beat the ANC by 99 votes.
The ANC beat the DA by 815 votes on the proportional representation (PR) ballot. In 2016, the ANC beat the DA by just under 1,300 votes in the ward.
More than a third of the voters in this ward vote at one voting district in Waterfall. The DA dominates in this district. The ANC won eight out of 10 districts, winning all of the Molweni districts, and also in Wushini and Emdimeni. The DA won the KwaNqetho district. KwaNqetho only accounts for 1% of voters in the ward.
ActionSA was fourth on the PR ballot with 4% in 2021, while the IFP came fifth with 2%.
The by-election: DA councillor Pearl Msomi died after a short illness. There were also threats to her life, which included a drive-by shooting at her home.
The ANC was the favourite to win back this ward and erase the blemish of its loss to the IFP in an Umkomaas by-election on the southern side of the Metro in December 2022. The EFF and the African Restoration Alliance (ARA) were also on the ballot. The voters’ roll had increased by 7% between this election and the local government elections.
The ANC won the by-election by a landslide. This result will give great encouragement to mayor Mxolisi Kaunda and the KwaZulu-Natal ANC leadership. The ANC far outran the previous PR result, while the DA and the EFF declined.
There was a big turnout differential in favour of the ANC. Turnout was much higher in all eight of the ANC voting districts compared with the two DA voting districts. Only 31% of registered voters in Waterfall cast their vote in the by-election. While the DA won 97% of the vote in Waterfall, the low turnout hurt them in the final result.
The ANC also attracted EFF voters in this by-election as the latter saw declines in every voting district.
More than 60% of registered voters turned out in two of the ANC strongholds. The big win for the ANC, and the energised turnout by its supporters, will motivate the party for the two additional by-elections in eThekwini before the end of 2023.
The win for the ANC sees the party winning an additional seat and returning to the 96 it started this council term with. The DA now has 57 councillors. This means the ANC is relatively more secure in this hung council of 222 seats.
Poll: 46% (54%)
Ward 6 (Sabie Simile), Thaba Chweu in Ehlanzeni: ANC 45% (35%) EFF 29% (15%) AUM 18% (48%) Ind-Mokgosinyane 7% (Incumbent) ACDP 1% (3%)
The setting: Ward 6 mainly comprises the Simile township next to the forestry town of Sabie on the R532 Panorama Route. It also encompasses the village of Tweefontein. A landmark in the ward is the Bridal Veil Falls. Sabie is close to the pancake capital of South Africa – Graskop. The seat of Thaba Chweu is Mashishing, formerly Lydenburg. Thaba Chweu is part of Ehlanzeni which includes Mbombela (Nelspruit) and Bushbuckridge.
The 2022 by-election: Paul Mokgosinyane won the ward for the African Unified Movement (AUM), having left the ANC. This was after winning it for the latter in the local government elections. Mokgosinyane – who served as a councillor and community leader in the Simile township for the ANC for a number of years – beat the party by 188 votes as he carried two of the three voting districts in the ward. These two districts are centred on Simile. Tweefontein, the smallest voting district, was won by the ANC.
The 2023 by-election: Mokgosinyane was expelled from AUM. He decided to run as an independent this time and was hoping to retain the ward for the third time in two years. The ANC was hoping it could win back this historically safe seat. It won 79% of the ward vote in 2021. The AUM was hoping to prove that its previous success in the by-election was not tied to Mokgosinyane and that it is indeed a presence in Thaba Chweu politics. The EFF and African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) also contested the by-election. The voters’ roll grew by 11% between this election and the previous by-election.
The ANC took back this seat by winning both of the Simile voting districts. The AUM carried both Simile districts in the previous by-election. Mokgosinyane proved not to be a factor in this by-election as the EFF jumped from fourth to second place in the ward. It won the Tweefontein voting district from the ANC and ran the party close in the more populous Simile district. For the second time in a row the EFF has surged in an Mpumalanga by-election.
The AUM might have fallen from first to third place, but there is some encouragement because it disproved the assumption that all of its support in the ward was tied to Mokgosinyane, who has been a strong feature of Sabie politics for several elections. His poor showing could be the end of the road for him.
The New Thaba Chweu council composition is ANC 16 (15) DA 6 EFF 3 AUM 1 (2) VF+ 1. Total: 27. The ANC returns to the full complement with which it started this term.
Poll: 45% (40%)
Ward 4 (Standerton Meyerville TLC) Lekwa, Gert Sibande in Mpumalanga: Ind-Stoltz (Incumbent) 72% ANC 13% (18%) DA 7% (27%) FF+ 6% (37%) EFF 2% (4%)
The setting: Standerton is the heart of the Lekwa municipality. The town has produced rugby players such as Pieter Hendriks and Jaco Kriel and soccer player Rooi Mahamutsa. It is in the Mpumalanga Highveld and is known for its farming. Maize, sunflower seeds, poultry and potatoes are some of the main contributors to the town’s economy. The town sits next to the Grootdraai Dam, and is also on the banks of the Vaal River. “Lekwa” is the Sesotho word for the Vaal River. Lekwa also includes the small town of Morgenzon. It is part of the Gert Sibande district which includes Secunda, Ermelo and eMkhondo.
Read more in Daily Maverick: EFF snatches safe seat from ANC in Mpumalanga, Patriotic Alliance puts ruling party in a Kimberley hole
The 2021 local government elections: The result in Lekwa in 2021 was historic. It was the first declared result in the province where the ANC fell under 50% for the first time in an Mpumalanga local government election. Mpumalanga was the only province between 1996 and 2021 where the ANC had never fallen below 50% in any municipal election. Two other municipalities in Mpumalanga also saw the ANC fall under 50%, but Lekwa was the first result to be announced.
The ANC won 13 out of 30 seats, with the local party Lekwa Community Forum (LCF) winning six, the DA four, the EFF and FF+ three each and the African Transformation Movement (ATM) winning a single seat. The LCF won the mayoral chain with the support of the DA, EFF and FF+.
It was not only the LCF that made a big splash in the Grootdraai Dam, as the FF+ went from nil seats to three seats. The result in Ward 4 was emblematic of this success. The party won its first ever ward in Mpumalanga when it won Ward 4. It was a bit player in the ward in 2016 but surged here in 2021. Just more than 70% of the voters in this ward are in Meyerville, a suburb on the edge of Standerton. The FF+ beat the DA by 177 votes here in 2021. The ANC won the other voting district in the township of Sakhile. This district accounts for about 30% of the ward. The ANC was hurt in the Sakhile TLC voting district by the LCF which won just under 30% of the vote in the district.
In the final result, the FF+ beat the DA by 162 votes and the ANC by 305 votes.
The by-election: Corné Stoltz, the FF+ councillor, resigned as he was unhappy with the council passing a budget which he believed the municipality was unable to fund. He threw his hat into the ring as an independent. Stoltz went head-to-head with the FF+ and the DA in the by-election which had the potential to be a four-horse race. The ANC had the run of the Sakhile TLC district since its main rival in the district, the LCF, was not on the ballot. The EFF was also on the ballot. The voters’ roll had increased by less than 1% between this election and the previous poll.
Stoltz won by a significant landslide. He will now finish this term as an independent. He was able to not only win over FF+ and DA voters, but ANC, LCF and some EFF voters as well. It is not often one candidate is able to sweep up voters from all parties across the political spectrum. He won 82% of the vote in Meyerville. This almost matched the combined FF+ and DA percentage of 2021 where the two parties accounted for 86% of the ward vote. His returns in Sakhile TLC were very impressive. In 2021, the combined DA and FF+ total was 5%. Stoltz won 41% of the vote in the by-election in this district. The ANC beat him by just eight votes in the district as both their support and the EFF’s support declined in this district.
The new council composition for Lekwa is ANC 13 LCF 6 DA 4 EFF 3 FF+ 2 (3) Ind-Stoltz 1 (0) ATM 1. Total: 30.
The opposition parties are not happy with the mayor. The DA has tabled a motion of no confidence in the current mayor from the LCF. Let us see what emerges in this embattled municipality. The EFF is still best placed to be the kingmaker here. Even though Stoltz only has one seat, his dominant victory, and his ability to attract voters from many parties, will see his star rise in Lekwa. If the opposition do not coalesce around one candidate, the ANC will have a good chance of getting the mayoral chain back.
Poll: 48% (58%)
Ward 23 (Atlasville Bonaero Park) Ekurhuleni: DA 96% (85%) ANC 3% (3%) EFF 1% (1%) AACUM (<1%)
The setting: This ward sits next to OR Tambo Airport and could be described as a “tri-town” area in the metro because it encompasses parts of Boksburg, Kempton Park and Benoni. The ward has three suburbs – Atlasville in Boksburg, Bonaero Park in Kempton Park and Brentwood Park in Benoni.
The 2021 local government elections: The DA was the only party to get into double figures in this ward, winning more than 80% of the vote. The FF+ came second with 7%, while the DA won between 75% and 93% in all the voting districts. It achieved 93% at Bonaero Park Primary School.
The by-election: The ward councillor resigned, citing lack of support from municipal officials to deal with the challenges in the ward. The FF+ and ActionSA sat out of the by-election, with the ANC and EFF electing to put up candidates. The voters’ roll increased by 1% between this election and the previous election.
The DA fell just shy of 90% of the vote at Bonaero Park Primary School. This was its poorest return in a dominant hold in this by-election. The party won 99% of the vote in Atlasville. With the FF+ not on the ballot, it is hard to use this result as an indication of what might happen here in 2024. What is clear is that the Multi-Charter Party did not lose any ground to the ANC. This result will also motivate the DA in Gauteng.
Poll: 22% (52%)
The next round of by-elections is on 8 November when the DA will defend two seats in Tshwane, one in Swartland in the Western Cape and one safe seat in Govan Mbeki, Mpumalanga. The ANC will defend a seat in Ephraim Mogale, Limpopo, and another in Msukaligwa, the municipality where the EFF shocked the ANC in a by-election a few weeks ago. DM