ANC off to slow start as Metsimaholo by-election results pour in

The Metsimaholo municipality is seeing history being made as the ANC appears to lose ground in the Felix Dada district in the Free State. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

The Metsimaholo municipality is seeing history being made as the ANC appears to lose ground in the Felix Dada district in the Free State. (Delwyn Verasamy, M&G)

As results pour in from the Free State’s Metsimaholo by-election, it seems as though the ANC is losing ground in many communities within the municipality.

The election was also remarkable in that it saw the ruling party go head-to-head with its alliance partner the South African Communist Party (SACP).

“It’s very tough,” the SACP’s Solly Mapaila told EWN, “but it’s okay because I think it’s about reaffirming our own values.”

Election analyst Dawie Scholtz has predicted that the by-election held on Wednesday will see the collapse of the ANC as the Economic Freedom Fighters gain more seats and the Democratic Alliance makes some small inroads. Scholtz said that the SACP has had a “surprisingly good start”, gaining up to 10% of the vote at some polling stations.

At 11.30am this morning, with 35% of the votes accounted for across the municipality, the DA had 41%, the ANC had 25% and the EFF had 15%.

The ANC has lost ground, according to Scholtz. In 2014, the 2 420 voters at the Thembalethu Hall voting station were in favour of the ANC which won with a clear majority of 74%.
In 2016, the EFF began to gain ground which meant the ANC only had 59%. Yesterday the Thembalethu Hall station has the ANC with 46%, the EFF with 32% and the DA with 7%.

At another voting station held at the Iketsetseng Comprehensive Secondary School, Scholtz reported that while the ANC held 69% of the votes in 2014, the ANC lost almost half of their votes on Wednesday night. The EFF and the ANC now sit at 37% each while the SACP has gained ground and has 14% of the votes at the Iketsetseng Comprehensive Secondary School’s voting station.

Despite allegations of vote rigging and irregularities, Wednesday’s polls were successful according to Local Government Minister and chair of the inter-ministerial committee on elections Des van Rooyen.

The by-election has been the result of a collapsed coalition between the Democratic Alliance, Economic Freedom Fighters, the Freedom Front Plus and the Metsimaholo Civic Association when the mayor of the MCA defected to the ANC in July.

“Starting from how the special votes were conducted, I mean really democracy is at play and this is very interesting,” Des van Rooyen told EWN.

Prior to the by-elections, the DA’s Free State leader Patricia Kopane told the Mail & Guardian that she thinks the ANC will lose ground.

She said that Metsimaholo residents no longer have trust or hope in the party, which has her thinking that the DA might stand a chance in the by-election.

Kopane believed that the EFF and the ANC were the only true contestants for the election — dismissing the SACP’s chance of gaining traction in the municipality.

The ANC’s provincial spokesperson, Thabo Meeko, has said that the SACP’s action to challenge the ANC at Metsimaholo signals “the potential to be the beginning of the end of the alliance”.

This is a developing story with more information to follow. 

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie

Gemma Ritchie works in the Mail & Guardian's online department. She majored in English Literature at a small liberal arts college in the USA.  Read more from Gemma Ritchie

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