By-election blow for the DA

Staff Writer | Aug 09, 2019
The Democratic Alliance (DA) lost four of 14 seats on a bumper ward election day.

In a bumper day for democracy buffs, 27 local government by-elections were held around the country on Wednesday. It was a good day for the African National Congress (ANC), which not only successfully defended all 12 of its own wards in the contest, but took four out of the hands of the DA.

The DA, defending 14 seats, lost four, all to the ANC. The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) also successfully defended a seat, in Maphumulo, north-east of Durban.

The results will once again have the DA concerned. Two of the wards that it lost are in Indian-majority or plurality wards, showing that its support among other minorities (not just white Afrikaners) is also starting to soften.

In Ekurhuleni, in Ward 29, where nearly half of the population are Indian South Africans, the ANC managed 51% of the vote, compared to the DA’s 41%. In the 2016 municipal elections, the DA had prevailed with 44%, compared to the ANC’s 38%.

A similar trend emerged in Ward 30 in Msunduzi (Pietermaritzburg) where 62% of residents are Indian. Here, Wednesday’s by-election saw the DA’s share of the vote drop from the 53% it won in 2016 to 35%. The ANC’s share jumped to 48% from 34%. In another Msunduzi ward, the DA barely managed to hold on to what should have been a safe seat. In this ward (where Indian people account for over eight in ten voters) the DA won by 59 votes, with 49% of the vote, compared to the ANC’s 47%. In the municipal election of 2016, the DA had won nearly three-quarters of the ward’s vote.

In Kempton Park, in Ekurhuleni, the Freedom Front Plus (FF+) continued its challenge to the DA. Although the DA held the ward – with over 60% of the vote – the FF+ saw its vote jump from three percent to 30%. The DA took the ward with nearly 90% of the vote in 2016.

The other wards the DA lost were in Makana (Grahamstown) in the Eastern Cape and Hantam in the Northern Cape.

These results should be causing some concern for the DA and do not bode well for the party’s chances in the next municipal poll, due in 2021.


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