DA wins crucial Cape by-election

The Democratic Alliance (DA) emerged victorious when residents of Tafelsig in Mitchell’s Plain voted for their candidate Sheval Arendse in Wednesday’s by-election in Cape Town.

The DA polled 3 870 to the ID’s 1 683. In the March general municipal poll the ID won the seat with 2 300 votes or 38,7%, with the DA just behind with 2 204 votes or 37,1%. The ANC did not stand this time but received 809 votes or 13,6% last time. The turnout this time was 40,6% — slightly less than the 43,1% percentage poll in March.

The by-election was the focus of Wednesday’s 14 by-elections around the country as it increases the majority of the DA-led multiparty coalition in Cape Town to two seats in the 210 seat council — the only metropolitan council in South Africa controlled by opposition parties.

Added to the political drama was that the seat — representing a working class coloured area with high unemployment — had been snatched by the ID from the DA in the March general municipal poll, one of just three ward seats that went to De Lille’s party. Her candidate at the time, Sheval Arendse, resigned the seat after the ID backed the African National Congress candidate Nomaindia Mfeketo for mayor.

‘Beginning of the end’ for the ID

DA mayor Helen Zille on Thursday night described the result as a landslide ”more than expected”, while party spokesperson Ryan Coetzee said it was the ”beginning of the end” for the ID. He noted that the DA had beaten the ID and African National Congress combined because the ANC declined to put up a candidate.

”The message of Tafelsig is that opposition voters in Cape Town want a clear alternative to the ANC. They don’t want a party that tucks itself into the ANC’s slipstream. They don’t want a party that tries to split the difference between the ANC and the opposition. They want a clear alternative,” said Coetzee.

Meanwhile, ID Cape Town city council caucus leader Simon Grindrod said: ”As a young political party, we have gained invaluable experience in contesting this by-election. Our team has become stronger and more unified as a result. We may have lost this battle, but we will win the war against poverty and racism.

”The Independent Democrats will remain steadfast in its mission to open our people’s minds to our vision of a South Africa where the divides that exist now have been properly bridged.”

Grindrod said the ID would, however, ”like to congratulate the DA on winning. It was a tough fight, one in which DA money and spin played a massive role. And in spite of the moral weakness of their candidate, the DA won.”

”From the perspective of the ID, there is little difference between the total votes received by us in the last election, compared to now.”

The ID candidate was June Frans.

Other candidates were Cee-Jay Williams from the Mitchell’s Plain Independent Party who gained eight votes or 0,14%, Ismail Petersen of the Universal Party who gained 26 votes or 0,46%, Jeanetta James of the Federation of Democrats with 18 votes or 0,32%, Johan Abrahams of the Pension Poverty Relief and Unemployment Front with eight votes or 0,14% and Philip Windvogel, an independent who received 89 votes or 1,57%.

Meanwhile, the Western Cape social services department is probing a case of fraud against Arendse and his wife Pamela, South African Broadcasting Corporation (SABC) television news reported on Wednesday.

This follows revelations that the couple have been receiving child support grants despite Arendse being employed as a councillor.

Records revealed Pamela Arendse in receipt of a child support grant of R190 per month, the SABC reported, quoting Henry de Grass, a director of social security and disaster relief in the department.

Arendse’s income was never declared, De Grass said, adding that officials from the department were investigating a case of fraud against the couple.

Arendse has conceded that his wife was not entitled to the grant and said he had asked her to stop accepting it. – Sapa

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