ANC wins 23 of 27 wards in by-election

The African National Congress (ANC) triumphed in 23 of the 27 wards contested in six provinces in Wednesday’s by-election, according to the Independent Electoral Commission.

The by-elections were held in the Eastern Cape, the Free State, Gauteng, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and the Northern Cape.

The Congress of the People (Cope) took two wards, while the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Independent Democrats (ID) took one each.

The ruling party fared better in this by-election compared to December 2008 when it was dealt a bruising blow, losing nine of the 18 wards it had previously held in the Western Cape to the DA.

ANC candidates Tobile Limba and Thando Nelson Ngetu emerged as favourites in the Eastern Cape wards.

In the Northern Cape, also hotly contested terrain after a string of ANC resignations and defections to Cope, the ANC won 12 of the 15 wards contested.

The ID’s Lionel van Wyk won the Kamiesberg municipality seat and Cope’s Katrina De Wee and Elizabeth Cloete successfully contested the Khara Hais and !Kheis municipalities.

While the ANC emerged triumphant in both provinces, the margin of its win is telling.

Political analyst Steven Friedman said the margin was significant as it varied substantially from previous results.

In the last municipal election in the Eastern Cape the ANC won 97,5% of votes while in the Alice ward this time around the ruling party won just 73,3% of the votes.

In the Northern Cape’s !Kheis municipality, the ANC won by 74,96% previously, but only by 46,26% in Wednesday’s by-election.

However, Friedman cautioned against using by-elections as a gauge for voter sentiment ahead of the general elections.

Voter turn-out for by-elections was “massively low” and it largely reflected the sentiment of the more “politically active” sector of the community.

“You have to be very careful about reading into by-election results,” he said.

“It is not a reliable gauge ... what it does suggest at this stage, however, is that all the talk about an ANC meltdown may not have much weight.

“It does tell you something about the state of the party’s [ANC] organisation.
It shows that the ANC, in terms of organising, is still holding up. But that is about all it tells you.”

The ruling party on Thursday said it was pleased with the result of the election.

“While by-elections are not generally regarded as a reliable indicator of party support, the ANC is pleased to note that it won all by-elections in Eastern Cape, Free State, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng,” read a statement.

It added that claims it was losing ground in the Northern Cape were “grossly exaggerated”, due to its winning 12 of the 15 wards contested in the province.

ID president Patricia De Lille said her party participated in the by-election in the Northern Cape to use it as a “test run” ahead of the general election, but also to increase visibility and support in the province.

“We are a work in progress ... I visited the Northern Cape to assist with growth there and I must say I am happy with our performance,” she said.

Cope could not immediately be reached for comment.—Sapa

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