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EFF beats ANC for major upset in Saldanha Bay, but ruling party wins big in KZN, North West

EFF beats ANC for major upset in Saldanha Bay, but ruling party wins big in KZN, North West
EFF members put up posters of their candidate, Danzil Putty, outside a voting station during a 2020 by-election in Louwville, Vredenburg. (Photo: Brenton Geach)

The EFF caused a significant upset by upending the ANC in a traditionally very safe seat for the latter in the town of Vredenburg, which falls under the Saldanha Bay municipality in the Western Cape. The ANC did, however, put together two dominant performances in the two other wards it was defending, winning by significant majorities.

Western Cape

Ward 9 (Ongegund Vredenburg) Saldanha Bay, West Coast: EFF 57% (15%) ANC 43% (72%)

The setting: Ongegund is east of the Vredenburg town centre, just off the R45 regional road which links Hopefield with Vredenburg. Vredenburg is home to the West Coast Mall and is known for its wheat, dairy and sheep farming. It is also the gateway to the fishing village of Paternoster. The West Coast district includes towns such as Malmesbury, Vredendal and Clanwilliam. 

The 2021 local government elections: The ANC won the ward by a landslide. The EFF beat GOOD for second place with the latter beating the EFF in one of the voting districts to end up with 9% of the ward vote. 

The DA lost its outright majority in the municipality, losing four seats to fall from 17 seats to 13 in the 27-seat council. The ANC remained the second-largest in Saldanha Bay, winning six seats. It lost two seats in the council. GOOD hurt both the DA and the ANC as it surged to third place with four seats. Four other parties won a single seat. The DA formed a coalition with the Freedom Front Plus. 

The by-election: Ward councillor Arthur Gqeba was murdered after arriving home from a meeting. He had survived two attempts on his life. Another person was killed in his home on a previous occasion when that individual was mistaken for Gqeba.

The ANC and EFF were the only two parties on the ballot here. The voters’ roll swelled by 33% since the local government elections. 

The EFF beat the ANC by 319 votes in a major election upset. The EFF increased its vote tally by a staggering 978 votes compared with the 2021 result. In 2021, the party obtained 268 votes. In the by-election this surged to 1,239. It carried both voting districts. In the George Kerridge Hall district in Ongegund, the EFF’s vote share climbed from 18% to 60%, while the ANC plummeted from 75% to 40%.

The EFF is now the fourth-largest party in the Saldanha Bay council. The new council composition is: DA 13, ANC 5 (6), GOOD 4, EFF 2 (1), Patriotic Alliance 1, FF+ 1, Cape Coloured Congress 1. Total: 27 seats. 

Poll: 38% (42%)


Ward 7 (Ngilanyoni Embothimuni) Mkhambathini in Umgungundlovu: ANC 78% (55%) EFF 15% (29%) IFP 8% (15%)

The setting: The translation of Mkhambathini from Zulu to English means the “place of the acacia trees”. This rural ward sits above the Mkhomazi river, west of Umgababa and Umkomaas. It comprises numerous villages. This municipality sits in the Valley of a Thousand Hills. It straddles the N3 national highway between Pietermaritzburg and Durban. Its seat of power is in Camperdown. It forms part of the Umgungundlovu district which includes Pietermaritzburg and Howick. 

The 2021 local government elections: The ANC beat the EFF by 478 votes with the ANC carrying five of the six voting districts. The EFF won in the village of eNtsongeni and also beat the IFP in three out of the other five districts. The IFP finished second in two districts. It was able to win more than 30% of the vote in one of the Ngilanyoni districts. 

The ANC was resolute in Mkhambathini, retaining nine seats in the 14-seat council. The EFF and IFP won two seats each with the DA also winning a seat. 

The by-election: Ward councillor Mzwandile “Nganono” Shandu was shot dead in uMlazi, Durban. Another councillor was injured in the attack. This was one month after surviving an assassination attempt in Mkhambathini.  

The ANC won big in this by-election, beating the EFF by 1,174 votes. It also took votes away from both the EFF and the IFP. It swept every voting district in the ward, with its poorest showing being 69% in one district. This is the second consecutive by-election in the uMgungundlovu district where the ANC has improved on its 2021 showing. KwaZulu-Natal was becoming a major headache for the party but in this vital Midlands district it has increased its majorities in recent by-elections. If these trends continue the ANC will believe that the opposition’s aspirations of taking the province away from the ruling party in 2024 are a fiction. 

Poll: 47% (47%)

North West

Ward 6 (Gopane) in Ramotshere Moiloa, Ngaka Modiri Molema ANC 63% (62%) EFF 20% (18%) F4SD 13% (5%) Independent-Moroeng 4%

The setting: Gopane is near the N4 national road between Zeerust and the Skilpadshek border post, close to the town of Lobatse in Botswana. Gopane is east of Radhikudu. The seat of Ramotshere Moiloa is Zeerust. The municipality includes Lehurutshe and Groot Marico. It extends to the Madikwe Game Reserve. It also borders Botswana on its western and northern sides. The municipality is named after Kgosi Ramotshere Moiloa. Moiloa refused to enforce the carrying of passbooks by Hurutshe women. He was banished by the South African authorities in 1957 for standing up for the Hurutshe women. 

The municipality forms part of the Ngaka Morimi Molema district. The principal seat for the district is Mahikeng. It also includes towns such as Lichtenburg, Delareyville and Setlagole. 

The 2021 local government elections: The ANC won comfortably here, carrying all six districts. The EFF was the only other party to get into double figures as it finished well ahead of the third-placed regional party, the United Christian Democratic Party (UCDP). 

Read more in Daily Maverick: DA retains Mangaung ward with solid win, PA snatches votes from ANC in surge to second place

The results in 2021 were very similar to 2016. The council shrunk by one seat and this saw the DA fall from two seats to one. Other than that change, all parties matched their hauls from 2016. The ANC won a big majority, winning 23 of the 37 seats. The EFF beat the Forum 4 Service Delivery (F4SD) for second place with six seats, while the F4SD won five. The FF+ and UCDP joined the DA with one seat each. 

The by-election: The ward councillor, Paul Lekwape, was the oldest elected councillor in the municipality. He died in hospital after a short illness. The three biggest parties in the municipality were joined by an independent candidate on the ballot. There was a 15% increase in the voters roll between the local government elections and the by-election. 

The ANC cantered to victory, winning all six districts in the ward. The EFF’s second-place finish was built on getting more than 23% of the vote in half of the voting districts, with 27% being its best return. The F4SD appears to be the main beneficiary of the UCDP’s absence from the by-election as it more than doubled its returns. This is a very positive result for the ANC in the district and it will motivate the party in North West as we head into an election year. 

Poll: 47% (47%)

Final by-elections for 2024

This concludes the by-elections for the year in the Western Cape and North West. The final round of by-elections for the year will be on 13 December, with three in KwaZulu-Natal, including one in eThekwini, and one in Gauteng. DM


Comments - Please in order to comment.

  • Ben Harper says:

    There we go then – the eff is using the anc’s own tactics

  • Rudi Hillermann says:

    This LM is very much an ANC area of influence – FULL STOP.
    (for geog context – rather refer to Camperdown (the seat of Govt), which is being developed into an ‘inland port’ serving Durban/N3 logistics corridor. Umkomaas/Umgababa references don’t fit well).
    EMbo-Thimuni is a Mkhize communal area.

  • Geoff Coles says:

    Is Mr Putty soft and pliable?

  • Ian Gwilt says:

    A bit hyperbolic comment about the EFF winning by 319 votes.

    The EFF beat the ANC by 319 votes in a major election upset. The EFF increased its vote tally by a staggering 978 votes compared with the 2021 result. In 2021, the party obtained 268 votes. In the by-election this surged

  • Daniel Bower says:


  • Jimmy Fell off the cliff says:

    Were two of these held because the previous incumbent had been murdered? That warrants a mention in the intro I would have thought.

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