/ 15 June 2023

IFP wins Umvoti ward, ANC retains two in Eastern Cape in latest round of by-elections

The Inkatha Freedom Party is now the largest party at Umvoti, but the ANC and its allies remain in control of the municipality. (Oupa Nkosi)

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) continued its trend of gaining new ground in the latest round of by-elections, taking a key ward in the Umvoti local municipality in KwaZulu-Natal away from the ANC.

By-elections were also held in the Kou-Kamma and Port St Johns local municipalities in the Eastern Cape, with the ANC retaining two wards and losing one.

The IFP’s Zwakhushiwo Zondi defeated former Umvoti mayor Philani Mavundla, the president of the Abantu Batho Congress (ABC) in a four-way battle for ward 2 in the municipality, which is in the KwaZulu-Natal Midlands.

Zondi took 53% of votes in the ward — previously held by the ANC, a significant victory over the ANC and the ABC, which run the hung municipality through a coalition — almost doubling the IFP’s support since the last election.

But the IFP’s new ward does not change the balance of power in Umvoti, with the win not being enough to dislodge the ANC/ABC coalition from control of the municipality, which is made up of Greytown, Kranskop and surrounding areas.

IFP provincial chairperson Thami Ntuli described the result as “a remarkable triumph” given the “fierce competition” for the ward from the ANC, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the ABC’s high-profile candidate.

Mavundla, who had served as deputy mayor of eThekwini after helping the ANC retain control of the city in November 2021, contested Umvoti ward 2 with the intention of becoming its mayor again.

“This outcome reinforces the people’s unwavering belief in the IFP as the party that best understands and addresses their needs,” Ntuli said. “The victory of the IFP in this previously ANC-held ward symbolises a clear shift in the community’s trust and  confidence.”

The IFP made significant gains in the 2021 local government elections in recovering municipalities in the province it had lost in 2016, taking control through coalitions with the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the EFF.

It has built on these gains in the by-elections since 2021, taking wards off the ANC through an alliance with the DA, which sees them both back one candidate, chosen on the basis of which of the two was the stronger in the ward.

In the Eastern Cape, the ANC maintained control of ward 2 in Port St Johns, taking 72% ahead of the DA’s 22%, the EFF’s 5% and the African Transformation Movement’s 1% of the vote.

The DA showed some growth in the ward, historically dominated by the ANC, which had nominated former independent candidate Patric Nomahobo to stand as its candidate.

In the Kou-Kamma municipality, the ANC retained ward 5 with 978 votes, and the Patriotic Alliance made significant gains, coming in second with 791 votes.

The result showed a decline by both the DA, which secured 254 votes, and the EFF, which took 92.