/ 19 May 2011

DA victorious in Midvaal

Da Victorious In Midvaal

The Democratic Alliance held the hotly contested Midvaal municipality in the local elections but the ANC still insists it is the better party and lost only because of a heavier DA voter turnout.

At midday on Thursday the DA had won 61% of the Midvaal vote and the ANC 37%. This represents a slight shift from the 2006 municipal elections when the DA won 58% and the ANC 42%. The DA’s victory means that it retains control of the council for the 12th year running, despite the ANC’s determined efforts to reverse past failures.

The ruling party deployed an array of heavyweights to bolster its campaign there, including Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe, ANC youth leader Julius Malema and Deputy Justice Minister Andries Nel. The government also built 1 000 toilets in Midvaal’s Sicelo Shiceka settlement at a cost of R3,6-million.

Midvaal, the only DA-led municipality in Gauteng, was named the top municipality for service delivery last year by Gauteng premier Nomvula Mokonyane.

It’s past midnight at the IEC Election Centre, but DA leader Helen Zille joined us for a quick chat about her experience of and thoughts on how election day went.

Reflecting on the ANC’s evident disappointment about the result, the party’s elections head, Ngoako Ramatlhodi, said at the election centre in Pretoria: ‘We did what we could. Wresting a council from your opponents is not an easy task. We went into the elections to win.”

But Ramatlhodi said: ‘I don’t think the DA did a good job at all. They have been servicing the interests of the minority. It’s just the opinion of opinion-makers that the ANC is not doing a good job.” He said elections were not won simply on the basis of service delivery and ‘doing a good job”.

‘Elections are about many things — communicating and convincing people. Midvaal only became a hotspot because the media made it like that,” Ramatlhodi said. ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu took a more considered view. ‘We’re going to have to go back to the drawing board to see why we couldn’t bring out more supporters,” he said. ‘We don’t lose elections because other parties have encroached on our support base, we lose because our supporters don’t go to the polls.”

He conceded that the DA had ‘better strategies” in this election but insisted that the party had not performed well in delivering services.

‘Go to Sicelo Shiceka, go and see for yourself. Everybody knows they haven’t done a good job,” he said. ‘There are many townships in Gauteng where we have started the process of formalising the informal settlements — our track record on informal settlements is far better.”

Party leaders returned to the IEC results centre in Pretoria early on Thursday morning to some interesting developments — including that the DA retained the hotly contested Midvaal area. We spoke to ANC spokesperson Jackson Mthembu and DA chief strategist Ryan Coetzee.

The ANC has claimed that the DA provides services only to the wealthier, mostly white suburbs in Midvaal, while ignoring the poorer black areas.

But the mayor of Midvaal, Timothy Nast, disagrees. ‘The real message from the DA is that this election was about service delivery,” he said. ‘We see our campaigning as being about service delivery, including refuse removal and sanitation, as opposed to the ANC’s constant racial rhetoric.”

On the upgrading of Sicelo Shi­ceka, Nast said that ‘the ANC has been saying lots of things but we invite anyone to come through and look. Every area is on the same grass-cutting programme, the quality of the libraries is the same.”

Midvaal has been in the spotlight in recent weeks over the night-time removal of a bust of apartheid architect Hendrik Verwoerd from outside the municipal offices in Meyerton, the municipality’s largest town. According to a source in the DA the decision to remove the bust ‘came right from the top”.

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