/ 11 April 2023

Clean sweep for sitting parties in 10 by-elections

2021 Local Government Elections
Incumbent parties held all their wards in 10 by-elections in three provinces last Wednesday, 5 April. (Delwyn Verasamy/M&G)

Incumbent parties held all their wards in 10 by-elections in three provinces last Wednesday, 5 April, with the governing party consolidating its position in three Mpumalanga municipalities, in which it took all five seats which were up for grabs.

Across the country, the ANC retained seven wards, the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) two and the Democratic Alliance (DA) one in the by-elections, which were contested by five independent candidates and 38 candidates from 14 political parties.

In Mpumalanga, the ANC won ward 1, ward 2 and ward 19 in Mkhondo Local Municipality, one of its strongholds, retaining the seats it took in 2021 which had become vacant due to the resignation of its councillors.

The party has battled with factionalism in the municipality, which includes the town of Piet Retief, since 2021 and has twice fired its councillors for backing the opposition in votes and bucking the ANC line.

As a result, it has held a total of nine by-elections in the municipality since 2021, winning all of them.

The ANC’s Zabilon Radebe also won ward 5 in the Dipaleseng Local Municipality, another ANC stronghold, taking 69.1% of the vote, a significant improvement on the 48.2% of the vote with which it won the wards in 2021.

The ANC managed to retain ward 4 in the Victor Khanye Local Municipality, which it controls outright, but by a lower margin than in 2021, taking 50.32% of the votes cast in the ward, compared with the 59.21% it received in November 2021.

In Gauteng, the ANC’s Kgaugelo Phiri won ward 105 in the City of Tshwane Municipality, by a larger margin than in 2021, while the DA’s David Harman successfully defended ward 16 in the Merafong City Municipality.

In KwaZulu-Natal, the ANC retained ward 12 in Mondlo in the AbaQulusi Local Municipality, where Themba Kunene took 52.38% of the vote, defeating Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) candidate Dduduzile Mdlalose, IFP candidate Thulani Buthelezi (46%) and independent Mthengi Zulu.

The IFP repainted ward 6 at uMvoti Municipality, defeating the ANC’s Sphiwe Ngidi, Sitembiso Gasa of the EFF and Mlungisi Makhaye of the Abantu Batho Congress (ABC).

The outcome is a particularly harsh defeat for the ABC, which got only 14.2% of the vote and whose leader, Philani Mavundla, is manoeuvring to become mayor of the town through an agreement with the ANC, who dumped him as eThekwini deputy mayor last December.

The IFP further consolidated its control of the Nongoma municipality, where its candidate, Ndukenhle Duma, won ward 11, with 54% of the vote, well ahead of the ANC, which only got 19%.

ActionSA, making its first foray into rural KwaZulu-Natal, managed to come third and to secure 10.25% of votes in the ward, a result which will encourage the party’s leadership ahead of next year’s national and provincial elections.