UDM humiliates ANC in hotly contested PE ward by-election

2015-08-20 16:58
Danny Jordaan

Danny Jordaan

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The ANC suffered a humiliating defeat this week when ward 30, which it previously controlled, was taken away by the UDM at the Nelson Mandela Bay Metro by-elections today. 

The win by the United Democratic Movement narrows the gap of the ruling party’s three-seat majority to only just two at the hotly contested council. 

The ward become vacant following the death of veteran ANC councillor Mike Tofile, who died in May. 

According to the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) there are 9 090 registered voters at ward 30. 

Results show the UDM won by 49% and the ANC garnered 41% of the vote. The DA received 9% of the vote. 

The writing was on the wall as early as 3pm today as a strong UDM crowd marched up and down the streets of Veeplaas and KwaMagxaki with a contingent of close to 20 minibus taxis branded with party colours. 

ANC supporters had by this time lost their voices and retreated to their party’s stalls near the voting stations, eating KFC which was distributed in buckets by a white VW Polo. 

Ward 30 constitutes Veeplaas, the more disadvantaged part of the ward. Its streets are dirty, uncollected refuse has piled up and the ward is plagued by challenges of housing delivery, water and electricity. The KwaMagxaki side is clean and more suburban, with basic infrastructure in place. 

A lot of the action took place at Veeplaas where voters who once belonged to the ANC said the party had abandoned them as far as service delivery was concerned and only remembered them now that elections were around the corner. 

Nobelungu Mpetha and her daughter, Thembisile, were both former ANC members but voted for the UDM because the ANC had failed them, they claimed. 

Nobelungu said the other problem was that the ANC had imposed a candidate on them despite promising that people could chose their own councillor. 

“They are doing the same thing they did with Danny Jordaan, who was not elected by the people of Port Elizabeth but is our mayor today. Our preferred candidate was Nozuko Hani, but the ANC decided on Sizakele Mnqamisa, someone who only came to PE in 1994. 

“We are voting for the UDM because the ANC does not want to listen to the will of the people, they just dictate to us. We are going to show them that they are nothing without us,” Nobelungu said. 

Speaking outside her home in Kani Street close to the Rabe Church voting station where she had just put her X for the UDM, Thembisile echoed her words. 

“You must look at Veeplaas and then look at KwaMagxaki. We are only separated by a small bridge, but the gap in service delivery is so huge. We have been forgotten all these years. 

“The ANC comes here now, because there are elections, and makes empty promises. We are not going to vote for them. We are not stupid as they think we are. We are not their voting cows,” she said. 

The win by the UDM came amid accusations by the ANC, even before the results were announced on Wednesday night, that Bantu Holomisa’s party had committed fraud. 

Zizi Kodwa, the ANC national spokesperson, alleged that the UDM had committed fraud after a presiding officer was found allowing people to vote at his house last night during special votes and was later spotted in a UDM campaign vehicle. 

“We have registered our complaint regarding that presiding officer, who is obviously biased,” Kodwa said. 

At that time, Kodwa was still confident the ANC would win back their ward despite the UDM’s strong show of force on the ground. 

“We have no fear, doubt or hesitation. We have done well in terms of housing delivery in this ward. Yes there might be issues here and there but we are confident of victory,” Kodwa said. 

The UDM and the DA accused the ANC of buying people with food parcels. Vehicles belonging to the provincial department of social development were allegedly spotted at the ward handing out food, days before the elections. 

Kodwa said it was naive for the opposition parties to expect service delivery to stop just because there were elections. 

“If it was the department of sport giving out food parcels it would have been a different case, but it’s social development and they are doing what they are mandated to do as government, elections or not,” he said. 

Athol Trollip, leader of the DA in Eastern Cape and mayoral candidate of the official opposition for next year’s local government elections, said the by-election at ward 30 was a taste of what was to come in the 2016 elections. 

“It’s a very interesting thing that is happening here. It’s an interesting barometer for the upcoming local government elections. And this ward, which used to be the ANC’s preserve, is being taken away by the UDM and has exposed the ruling party’s arrogance,” Trollip said. 

The popularity of the UDM in what used to be an ANC stronghold proved the Nelson Mandela Metro was truly up for grabs, he said. 

Trollip who had conceded that the UDM were the favourites to win even before counting started said his party hoped to grow in the ward. This would propel them into a good position for next year’s elections. 

Mongameli Bobani, leader of UDM at the metro, said the party’s victory showed the anger people had for the ruling party for its failures in the last 20 years. 

Bobani congratulated the new ward 30 councillor, Mandla Faltein, and promised that the party would bring the issues of the ward – which included housing and an electricity backlog – to the fore. 

“We are elated by this victory. We worked very hard to achieve this goal, and just a few days ago we welcomed 1 000 members from the ANC into the UDM. We hope this will make us strong ahead of 2016. The ANC’s hegemony is coming to an end,” Bobani said. 

Read more on:    zizi kodwa  |  by-elections

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