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NOVEMBER BY-ELECTIONS

ANC, DA record solid wins all round, but EFF and Patriotic Alliance deliver scares in Limpopo and Swartland polls

ANC, DA record solid wins all round, but EFF and Patriotic Alliance deliver scares in Limpopo and Swartland polls
(Photo: Shelley Christians)

The DA retained all four seats it was defending, including two in Tshwane, but was given a major run for its money by the Patriotic Alliance in a Swartland by-election near Malmesbury in the Western Cape. The ANC retained its two seats, but will be concerned by the growth of the EFF in a rural seat in Limpopo.

Gauteng

Ward 64 (Centurion The Reeds) Tshwane: DA 67% (53%) Action SA 23% (12%) ANC 6% (11%) EFF 3% (9%) ACDP 1% (1%) RCT <1% (<1%)

The setting: Ward 64 includes the suburbs of The Reeds and Rooihuiskraal in Centurion, south of the Pretoria city centre. It sits between the N1 and N14 national roads. Ward 64 is where the Battle of Rooihuiskraal took place in 1880. It houses the Bishop Bird Park, a fine place to watch birds and get close to blesbok. 

The 2021 local government elections: The DA beat the nearest challenger by more than 40 percentage points, but lost ground here to ActionSA and the Freedom Front Plus (FF+). The contest for second place between ActionSA, the FF+ and the ANC was close. Only 60 votes separated ActionSA from the ANC.

The by-election: The ward councillor passed away. The FF+ decided to sit out the by-election, with the DA and ActionSA hoping to pick up support from FF+ voters in the ward. The DA and the ActionSA candidates are both proportional representation (PR) councillors in Tshwane. The voters’ roll had a 3% increase for the by-election compared with 2021. 

The DA had a comfortable hold in Ward 64, winning two-thirds of the vote in the by-election. ActionSA almost doubled its support in the ward to finish in a clear second place, while the ANC and EFF lost ground, with the former almost halving its support and the latter only retaining a third of the market share in Ward 64. 

The DA and ActionSA recorded growth in all six of the voting districts, with the larger Rooihuiskraal voting district, the Rooihuiskraal Apostolic Faith Mission Community Church, being the standout district for the DA. The party went from 51% to 75% in this relatively populous district, while ActionSA grew from 9% to 15%. The EFF’s support receded from 16% to 2% in this district. 

ActionSA will be happy with its growth in the ward, especially in the four The Reeds voting districts. The DA’s growth in The Reeds was not as impressive as it was in Rooihuiskraal. 

ActionSA more than doubled its support at the Kolgans Park voting district, surging from 14% to 30%. At Laerskool Uitsig, ActionSA muscled up from 16% to 29%. The DA improved from 47% to 58% in this district, while the ANC and the EFF lost significant ground, with the ANC going from 17% to 8% and the EFF from 8% to 4%. 

The African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) and Republican Conference of Tshwane (RCT) were unable to take advantage of the FF+ not being on the ballot. They will be disappointed by their stagnation in this by-election. 

Poll: 24% (58%)

Ward 47 (Elarduspark Moreleta Park) Tshwane: DA 99% (70%) ANC 1% (4%) OHM <1% (<1%) RCT <1% (<1%)

The setting: Ward 47 is a suburban ward in the east and the southeast of the city. Its landmarks include the Wingate Country Club and the Kimiad golf course. The ward sits just above the Rietvlei Dam and the Rietvlei Reserve. Other suburbs in the ward are Rietvalleirand and Wingate Park.

The 2021 local government elections: The DA won here by a landslide, but lost ground to the FF+. They were the only two parties to get into double figures. The FF+ received upwards of 20% of the vote in Elardus Park and Rietvalleirand. 

The by-election: The ward councillor received a job offer in a coastal province and resigned from council. The FF+ missed the by-election. The DA and the Republican Conference of Tshwane were hoping to pick up support from FF+ voters. The voters’ roll had a 5% increase for the by-election compared with 2021. 

The DA had a crushing win in Ward 47, obtaining its highest percentage in a by-election since the 2021 local government elections. It won more than 98% of the vote in five of the six voting districts. At the Kleutergenot Pre-School district in Rietvalleirand near Elarduspark, the party won 612 out of the 616 valid votes cast. 

Poll: 21% (62%)

Western Cape

Ward 7 (Malmesbury Abbotsdale) Swartland, West Coast: DA 37% (58% PR) PA 32% (2% PR) ANC 17% (19% PR) ACDP 6% (2% PR)  FF+ 5% (7% PR) EFF 1% (3% PR) UIM <1%

The setting: Most of the voters in the ward are in Abbotsdale and Kalbaskraal. Abbotsdale is southwest of Malmesbury, close to the seat of power in Swartland-Malmesbury. Kalbaskraal is a smaller settlement, south of Malmesbury, next to the N7 national road. The ward also includes many farms. Swartland is the home municipality of Pieter-Steph du Toit, man of the match in the Rugby World Cup final. The West Coast district includes the towns of Saldanha Bay, Vanrhynsdorp and Clanwilliam. 

The 2021 local government elections: The DA almost lost the ward here. It beat the independent candidate by 61 votes in a tight race. The independent candidate carried vote-rich Abbotsdale but the DA was able to win enough support in other parts of the ward to hang on. The party beat the ANC by just more than three votes to one on the PR ballot. The DA won all five voting districts on the PR ballot, doing best in the two voting districts set around the farms in the ward. The FF+ beat GOOD for third place on the PR ballot. The PA barely featured in the ward in 2021, finishing on 2%.

The by-election: The ward councillor resigned and joined the former DA member of the provincial legislature and provincial speaker Masizole Mnqasela’s new party, the Alliance of Citizens For Change (ACC). Despite the ward councillor defecting, the ACC decided to sit out this by-election. The independent candidate who ran the DA so close decided not to contest the by-election. GOOD was another party that decided to keep its powder dry in the Swartland. 

It was a crowded field for this by-election, with the PA expected to be the DA’s main challenger in the ward and hoping to build on its impressive growth in Cape Town, George and Barrydale in this corner of the province. The voters’ roll increased by a significant 19% for the by-election compared with 2021. 

The PA ran the DA very close in this by-election. While the margin was not as close as the DA’s 61-vote victory in 2021, the DA will be concerned about the PA’s inroads in the ward and what this means for other similar wards on the West Coast. 

The PA won the most populous district in the ward – Abbotsdale. Incidentally, the independent candidate won this district in the 2021 local government elections, and the DA again came up short here. The PA beat the DA by 11 votes in Abbotsdale, getting 38% of the vote, while the DA won 37%. The PA only won 3% here on the PR ballot in 2021, with the DA banking 62% of the district’s support. 

It was also close in Kalbaskraal. The DA won 38% in this district, with the PA getting 31%. In 2021, the DA received 56% support in the district, with the PA getting 1%. The ANC was third with 22%, making gains from its 2021 PR ballot returns. 

The PA lost ground to the DA in the other three voting districts. While these districts had fewer voters, the gap between the DA and the PA was substantial, with 85 votes separating them. The ANC also finished well ahead of the PA when tallying its combined vote in the three districts. 

The ANC took the Mess Building voting district in Malmesbury off the DA. The ANC won 57% here, up from 35% on the PR ballot in 2021, while the DA declined from 43% on the PR ballot to 27%. The PA received no votes in the Malmesbury district. The 34% turnout in Malmesbury was well off the 58% average of Abbotsdale and Kalbaskraal.

The DA won the Welgemeend Farm district on the Joubertskloof Road, but was well down from 2021. It won 41% here, after receiving 70% support on the PR ballot in 2021, with the PA getting 36% in the by-election after receiving no support here in 2021. Turnout was also down compared with Abbotsdale and Kalbaskraal, with only 31% of registered voters turning up. 

The DA carried the Doornekraal farm voting district on the R302 regional road with 94% of the vote. The PA received no support here. Turnout was extremely low in this part of the ward – only 11% of voters made their mark. 

Poll: 51% (46%)

Gert Sibande, Mpumalanga

Both Mpumalanga by-elections took place in Gert Sibande, the seat of which is Ermelo. The district includes the towns of Standerton, Volksrust and eMkhondo. 

Ward 9 (Wesselton Ermelo) in Msukaligwa, Gert Sibande: ANC 79% (73%) EFF 21% (20%)

The setting: Wesselton is a township northwest of the town centre of Ermelo. Ermelo is the principal town in Msukaligwa. Other towns in the municipality are Chrissiesmeer, Breyten and Lothair. Breyten is where the EFF recently shocked the ANC in an October by-election. This is the home municipality of late musician Lucky Dube and cricketer Lizelle Lee. 

The 2021 local government elections: The ANC romped home in Ward 9. It won more than 70% in each of the voting districts in the ward. The EFF was the only other party to feature in Ward 9.

The by-election: The ward councillor passed away. This was a straight shootout between the ANC and the EFF. The EFF was hoping to bring the winning recipe from nearby Breyten to Wesselton. The voters’ roll had a 1% decrease for the by-election compared with 2021. 

The ANC erased any hopes of an EFF upset trend developing in this municipality with an emphatic victory in Wesselton. It won more than 80% in two of the four voting districts. In 2021, 75% was its best result in a district in the ward. What made the victory even sweeter was that the turnout was higher than in 2021. The result in Wesselton was the ANC’s best result in this round of by-elections. 

Poll: 41% (37%)

Ward 21 (Secunda East) in Govan Mbeki, Gert Sibande: DA 92% (79%) ANC 7% (5%) EFF 1% (3%)

The setting: This is a largely suburban ward but includes a small rural section. Secunda is the principal town in Govan Mbeki. Bethal and Leander also form part of Govan Mbeki. This is the municipality which gave the nation Josiah Thugwane, who won gold in the 1996 Olympics marathon.

The 2021 local government elections: The DA fell just short of 80% in the ward. The only other party to manage double figures was the FF+ which obtained 12%.

The ANC lost its outright majority in Govan Mbeki, winning 26 of the 63 seats. The DA was second with 17 and the EFF third with 13. The EFF supported the ANC to form a stable government in Govan Mbeki.

The by-election: The ward councillor resigned. The FF+ did not nominate a candidate to run in the by-election. The voters’ roll increased by 5% compared with 2021. 

The DA won by a landslide in the by-election. The victory was built on winning 98% of the vote at Laerskool Secunda. Most votes in the by-election were cast at the Goudveld Shopping Centre district. Here the DA won 89% of the vote, up from 79%. The ANC grew from 6% to 10%, while the EFF fell from 4% to 1%. The FF+ won 9% in this district in 2021. 

Poll: 22% (51%)

Limpopo

Ward 1 (Malebitsa Driefontein) Ephraim Mogale in Sekhukhune: ANC 62% (71%) EFF 36% (15%) Bolsheviks 2% (2%)

The setting: Ward 1 is in the far west of the municipality, right on the Mpumalanga border, next to the Dr JS Moroka municipality. It comprises the villages of Malebitsa and Driefontein, which are below the R33 road which links Modimolle with Marble Hall. Marble Hall is the seat of Ephraim Mogale. Known for its citrus farming, the municipality takes its name from the first leader of the Congress of South African Students. Mogale was a member of Parliament and the provincial legislature in Mpumalanga. The Sekhukune district is a majority Pedi-speaking district. Its principal town is Groblersdal and also includes Burgersfort and Ohrigstad. 

The 2021 local government elections: The ANC won this ward by a landslide, sweeping all four voting districts. It was more popular in Malebitsa than Driefontein. The EFF won 29% of the vote at one of the Driefontein polling stations. 

The ANC’s support barely declined in Ephraim Mogale. It fell from 20 seats to 19 in the 32-seat council. The EFF remained on seven. Two independent councillors won wards in the municipality. The DA, FF+ and the left-wing Bolsheviks Party of South Africa are also represented on the council.

The by-election: The ward councillor died after a car accident. The ANC and EFF were joined on the ballot by the Bolsheviks. There have not been many by-elections in Limpopo in general and Sekhukhune in particular. This election offered a glimpse of what voters in this key ANC district might be thinking in late 2023. The voters’ roll ballooned by 19% compared with 2021.

The ANC retained the ward with more than 60% of the vote, but the party will be concerned by the big increase in support for the EFF. The red berets more than doubled their support with a 36% haul. 

Read more in Daily Maverick: EFF snatches safe seat from ANC in Mpumalanga, Patriotic Alliance puts ruling party in a Kimberley hole

The EFF made particular inroads in Malebitsa. In the Mabule Primary School district the party grew from 9% to 38%, while the ANC declined from 71% to 59%. At Matebane Primary School in Malebitsa the ANC fell from 76% to 52% as the EFF surged from 8% to 46%. 

In Driefontein the EFF’s growth was more subdued, with the ANC’s support more resolute, showing increased support in one of the districts here. 

Poll: 51% (42%)

The next by-election will be on 15 November when the ANC defends a super safe seat in Mhlontlo, Eastern Cape. DM

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