The ANC thanked supporters on Thursday after it took the lead in the closely contested Ward 9 Tlokwe by-elections.
"The people of Tlokwe have proved they still have confidence in the ANC," said Social Development Minister and national executive committee deployee to the province Bathabile Dlamini. "We [are] at the beginning of our journey and it is going to be a long one."
The ANC received 551 votes and independent candidate Khotso Ratikoane received 447 votes, provincial Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) officer Tumelontle Thiba told reporters on Wednesday night. The Democratic Alliance (DA) secured 110 votes, the Congress of the People four votes and the African People's Convention eight votes. These were preliminary results that needed verification, she said. Final results will be released on Thursday.
"This contest shows that democracy is alive," Thiba said. "We [the IEC] are very happy [with the by-elections] and we can say with confidence that the process was fair."
Thiba said results from the voting station at the Mohadin Community Hall were more or less the same.
There were about 3 500 registered voters in Ward 9. The IEC had expected a 20-25% voter turn out, which was achieved.
The ANC should not take things for granted as the results were a close call, Dlamini said at a victory party in the ward. The real work will start "now" as the party heads into the September by-elections, where it will contest nine wards.
"We need to work harder and increase our mobilisation," she said. "The people who voted for those vultures [the independent candidate] will see that they are not real ANC members."
Dlamini said Ratikoane misrepresented himself to voters, calling himself an ANC independent candidate. "People have seen that they do not represent the ANC and people will identify that there is a difference between people being independent candidates and party representatives," she said.
Dlamini told ANC members to be patient and not power hungry. Members need to be careful of putting candidates forward who want to destroy the country, she added.
ANC North West chairman Supra Mahumapelo said the provincial executive committee will be in the area over the weekend to push people to register for the next by-elections. "We have cancelled our meeting, which was scheduled for the weekend, so that we can focus on this important work to defend Tlokwe," he said.
DA mayor Annette Combrink is running the North West city after councillors voted to unseat ANC mayor Maphetle Maphetle. This follows a lengthy saga that took a turn in the High Court in Johannesburg. – Sapa