The ANC has made some significant gains on the Democratic Alliance (DA) in two Western Cape by-elections, with the DA losing 17% and 9.6% in two wards respectively.
The Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) released the results of four by-elections held on Wednesday – two in the Western Cape and two in KwaZulu-Natal.
The DA retained one ward each in both the Saldanha Bay and Oudtshoorn municipalities on Wednesday.
The party held on to their majorities by slim margins in these traditional strongholds, but witnessed substantial swings in favour of the ANC opposition.
In Ward 3 in Saldanha Bay, the DA retained the seat it had won in the 2016 municipal elections, “however, with a reduced margin of 52.82% of the votes cast compared to 69.99% in the 2016 municipal elections,” an IEC statement read.
On the other hand, the ANC increased its margin from 24% to 39% in the ward in the same period
In Ward 13 in Oudtshoorn, the DA “retained the seat it won in the 2016 municipal elections, however with a reduced margin of 50.59% of the votes cast compared to 60.19%”.
The ANC increased its margin from 27% to 44% in the ward in the same period.
There was also a slightly decreased turnout in the two by-elections, with 40.21% turning out in Saldanha Bay, and 52.85% in Oudtshoorn.
‘It’s no secret we have challenges’
DA Western Cape leader Bonginkosi Madikizela admitted that the party had challenges in dealing with voter frustration, which was evident from the latest results.
“It’s not a secret that we have a number of challenges currently,” he told News24. “We all know what is happening in the City of Cape Town, and we’ve been very upfront that voters get turned off when parties are focused internally.
“Under those conditions, I can accept any win. Of course, as leader I’m not happy that we’ve dropped, but the fact that we’ve retained our wards under current conditions, I can accept that.”
Madikizela said it was fortunate that the “wake-up” call had come early enough for the party to adjust ahead of next year’s national and provincial elections.
He felt the slim victories showed there was still opportunity for the party to arrest the decline and come back stronger.
It’s currently embarking on its “Let’s Talk” campaign to get voter feedback in their wards across the province and give voters a chance to vent their frustrations.
“We are facing the music and trying to regain the support. We have started to do that. On Saturday, we had our federal leader [Mmusi Maimane] at one of these meetings and everyone came out of that meeting re-energised.
“It is true that some voters have been demoralised, but that campaign has allowed voters to vent and more importantly, it has given us an opportunity to understand the issues better.”
ANC swings in Oudtshoorn
Meanwhile, the ANC in the Western Cape saw increases of almost 20% in the Oudtshoorn ward.
Provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs praised the party’s newfound fortunes, attributing it to the promise of the “new dawn” under President Cyril Ramaphosa.
“This increase has seen [the] ANC winning one of the two voting districts, although this was offset by a slightly bigger DA margin in the second voting district, giving [the] DA a very slim victory of 122 votes.
“The DA has indeed lost all their 2016 gains, losing a whopping 10% of its voters compared to 2016, and have been pushed back to 2011 numbers,” he said.
“This affirms the power of the ‘new dawn‘ and the positive impact of a renewing ANC in just a space of five months.”
Jacobs finished his statement by saying that the party was confident that the next elections were going to see “sweeping changes” in Western Cape wards and municipalities.
Elsewhere in the country, the DA won Ward 10 in the eThekwini Municipality with an increased margin of 94.23% of the votes cast, compared to 91.13% in the 2016 municipal elections. Voter turnout was 40.08%.
Meanwhile, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) continued its gains in KwaZulu-Natal, retaining Ward 7 in the Nkandla Municipality, with an increased margin of 53.33% of the votes compared to 51.26% in the 2016 municipal elections. Voter turnout was 65.07%. — News 24