Provincial secretary for the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the North West Chris Hattingh said on Tuesday that although elections could go either way, if voter turn-out is good, they are confident that they will retain their power in Tlokwe, which is part of Ward 9. He assured the ANC’s recent "blatant disregard for the lines between the ANC and government" will not win them any fans.
He is referring to the incident which saw Minister of Social Development Bathabile Dlamini distributing food parcels and blankets in Tlokwe’s informal settlement areas during a social development outreach campaign. The ANC issued a stern warning to the community of North West to not let the government, which hands out grants and food parcels, slip out of their hands.
The DA, during its door-to-door visits, said it was clear that even the poorest and unemployed people have seen through these electioneering stunts.
Last week, Dlamini also released a statement stating that there are 17 000 child-headed households in Potchefstroom, one out of every three households. She added that over 19 000 children are suffering from malnutrition and that there more than 17 000 child-headed households in Potchefstroom, most of whom do not receive social assistance.
Quest for dominance
The DA labelled this as an exaggeration, saying it is indicative of the levels the ANC will stoop in their quest for political dominance.
“If these statistics were remotely accurate and trustworthy it would almost have been criminal not to declare a state of emergency in the municipality. It would also have been a serious indictment against her department for allowing such a disaster to unfold without any intervention during the last 20 years,” said Hattingh.
Acting provincial secretary for the ANC in the North West Gordon Kegakilwe said their election machinery is well oiled and that they are prepared to reclaim their territory. Kegakilwe said they are convinced the people of North West know the ANC for its good service delivery on a day-to-day basis.
“Despite last month’s Tlokwe court judgment, we are not defocussed; we continue to intensify our efforts to mobilise ANC members and support in Tlokwe,” assured Kegakilwe.
Last month, a North Gauteng High Court judge ruled that DA councillor Anne Combrick was the legitimate mayor of Tlokwe rather than ousted ANC mayor Maphetle Maphetle who had refused to vacate office. Maphetle was voted out twice over the past year following allegation of corruption.
"Our people will vindicate us and we will move forward by ensuring our overwhelming victory during these by-elections and during next year’s national and provincial elections," said Kegakilwe.
Political analyst Professor Andre Duvenhage of the North West University foresees a very difficult by-election for the ANC leading up to the national elections in 2014. "The by-election is going to signal the possible change in support and the potential influence of new parties such as the Economic Freedom Fighters and old parties such as the DA."
He added that depending on Wednesday’s result, there is potential for instability in Tlokwe in the build-up to the also highly contested September 18 by-elections.
“But what will be more interesting is to see how the scenarios in Tlokwe and the divisions within the ANC will influence the ruling party,” said Duvenhage.
As part of its promise to the people, the ANC has vowed to adhere to the principles that have been questioned over the past few months; unity and democratic centralism.
Kegakilwe ensured that selfless service, internal debates, honesty, discipline and mutual respect will prevail in Tlokwe under their leadership. He warned against anyone who crosses that line as they will face the consequences.
"The ANC is the leader of society and our behaviour must always be beyond reproach," he said.
'Smoke and mirrors'
The DA has accused the ANC of pretending to be a caring and delivering government by preying on the emotions of impoverished voters. This, after the Potchefstroom community demanded action from the ANC about the allegations of fraud and corruption against Maphetle, which were confirmed in a forensic investigative report.
“The ANC responded with the delivery of food parcels and blankets. How the electorate will respond to the ANC’s smoke and mirrors strategy in lieu of action and delivery will become clear on Wednesday,” said Hattingh.
Earlier in the week, the South African Communist Party urged the ANC to take back Tlokwe from "madams and baases". Speaking in Tlokwe, SACP’S general secretary Blade Nzimande also called on the ANC to fix its problems and resolve issues of alleged corruption within their own members.