The next round of by-elections will be on May 6. A full list of all affected wards is here. There are up to 27 wards that will be contested (the number may change if wards are uncontested). Of these 27 wards, 19 are in just one municipality – all of Mtubatuba’s wards are up for grabs.
We’ll get to that story in the next post – and it’s a big story – but there’s a lot more going on. In fact, May’s by-elections promise to be as exciting as April’s were boring – at least in the build-up if not the results. At least four of the eight wards outside of Mtubatuba have the potential to be interesting.
Firstly, there’s Ward 7 in Mantsopa (Ladybrand) municipality, in the Free State. The ANC won the ward with just 51 per cent of the vote in 2011 to the DA’s 40 per cent (FF+ 5 per cent, COPE 4 percent). If this ends up being a two-horse race in the rematch, the DA will fancy its chances.
Secondly, there’s Ward 18 in Greater Tubatse (Burgersfort / Ohrigstad / Eastern Tubatse), in Limpopo, The ANC won the ward with just 47 per cent of the vote, with the PAC (29 per cent) and the DA (21 per cent) splitting the opposition vote right down the middle.
Thirdly, there’s Ward 2 in Langeberg (Robertson), in the Western Cape. The ANC won the ward with just 44 per cent in 2001. The DA got 38 per cent and an independent won 14 per cent. Again, the DA will fancy its chances, particularly if it’s just the party and the ANC contesting.
Although the ANC would hate to lose any of these wards, the stakes are lower in Mantsopa and Greater Tubatse, where the party has an overwhelming majority in both councils. In Langeberg, the DA (11 seats) and COPE (one seat) coalition has a slim majority in the 23-seat council.
In Langeberg the story is more interesting. If the DA wins the Langeberg seat it doesn’t technically need COPE to run the municipality. This doesn’t mean that the coalition will be dissolved but it would be a big boost to the DA.
Which brings us to the fourth ward of interest: Ward 7 in Oudtshoorn, also in the Western Cape. This ward was won by the DA with 64 per cent to the ANC’s 24 per cent. The DA should retain the seat, but a lot hangs in the balance for both parties.
The municipality has been fought over since the 2011 elections when both the ANC and the DA won 11 seats, and COPE, the Independent Civic Organisation Of South Africa (ICOSA) and the National People’s Party (NPP) won a seat each.
The ANC initially headed up a coalition with ICOSA and the NPP, holding a one-seat majority over the DA-COPE coalition (13 seats to 12 in the 25-seat council). In August 2013 the DA won a ward previously held by the ANC, and the DA-COPE coalition took power (I wrote about it here). If the DA were to lose the ward, the previous coalition would presumably be in charge again.
Overall the ANC has more to lose in terms of actual wards (not counting Mtubatuba, we’ll get to that just now). On the other hand the DA could lose a whole municipality. The PAC may also have a role to play in the story – the party has won a ward from the ANC in Limpopo before (I wrote about it here). There might be one or two independents too. We just have to wait for a final list of candidates, which should be out any day now.