DA heads to court after ‘forgotten’ candidate wins by-election

2015-03-08 06:00

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The DA has launched a Constitutional Court challenge in a bid to wrest an Mpumalanga ward from the ANC.

The ANC won ward 28 in Mhluzi near Middelburg in the Steve Tshwete Local Municipality during a by-election on February 25, but there was controversy about the registration of its candidate, Joyce Nkambule, with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC).

The ANC had failed to submit its R1 000 bank-guaranteed cheque before the 5pm deadline on February 2.

It then slipped the cheque under the door at the IEC office, but the IEC could not accept that and declared that DA candidate Palesa Mobango would stand unopposed in the by-election.

The ANC took the matter to the Electoral Court and succeeded in having Nkambule registered. The DA then launched an appeal to have this decision rescinded, but failed. The IEC decided not to challenge the ruling.

Outgoing Mpumalanga DA leader Anthony Benadie said the party wanted the February 25 results set aside. He was speaking outside the party’s provincial conference in Mbombela.

“We were the only party with a valid candidate. If the Electoral Court says it’s fine for parties not to register candidates properly then we are in danger,” Benadie said.

The DA, he added, had been making inroads into traditional ANC strongholds. In February 2012, it snatched Graskop away from the ANC in the corruption-riddled Thaba Chweu municipality for the first time since 1994 after a by-election.

“In Mhluzi, even though we lost, we grew our votes from 1.6% to 12%. We’ve grown in every part where we participated in elections,” said Benadie.

An ANC faction opposed to Nkangala regional chairperson Speedy Mashilo said the regional executive committee (REC) “forgot” to register the candidate because it was concerned with the factional purging of comrades who did not support his re-election.

ANC secretary-general Gwede Mantashe had to visit the region last month to put out fires after Nkangala District Municipality speaker Bafana Nkwanyana was recalled.

Mashilo, an ally of Premier David Mabuza, has been accused of being behind the purge.

He, however, said Nkwanyana was recalled because he had incited violence while campaigning against Mashilo’s re-election.

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