ANC tightens grip on Msunduzi

2011-05-20 00:00

THE ANC has tightened its grip on the Msunduzi Municipality despite having run it into the ground. The ANC’s two-seat gain came at the expense of the IFP while the DA won three seats previously held by the ANC.

The election saw the IFP totally annihilated in Msunduzi with the ANC making a clean sweep in all five of the Vulindlela wards previously held by the party. The only other big winner was the DA. It held onto its six seats while regaining the three seats in the northern suburbs that it lost in the 2006 local government election.

According to unofficial results, the ANC now holds 28 of the 37 ward seats in Msunduzi, while the DA has nine. Smaller parties fared badly and the big losers were the new kid on the block the New Freedom Party (NFP), the Minority Front (MF) and the Congress of the People (Cope). Just how well these smaller parties fared will become evident by whether they have a representative in the council through the Proportional Representative (PR) list.

Turnout saw a big jump, at almost 59%, compared to 44% in 2006. A factor influencing the turnout is believed to be residents’ dissatisfaction over huge service delivery challenges.

In the run-up to the election, refuse was not collected for weeks on end, there were frequent power outages, streets were not cleaned and residents struggled to get through to the municipality.

ANC supporters in the northern suburbs were shocked at the outcome. Calls to The Witness indicated that it was not the service delivery challenges that influenced voting, but unhappiness over some of the candidates.

Resident Ahmed Khan said he warned the ANC about choosing worthy candidates. “The ANC did not lose the election because people don’t like the ANC. It was because people did not like some of the candidates,” he said.

Among the candidates most unpopular with residents was Rachel Soobiah, who remained on the ANC’s PR list despite being shown to be flouting council bylaws by running an illegal boarding house. A caller said people punished the ANC for not removing Soobiah’s name from the list.

Ward 31 candidate Muhammad Khan was not elected. People referred to him as having no political or community profile and were not enamoured by the way his campaigners canvassed, saying they were not polite.

DA caucus leader in the Msunduzi Municipality Bill Lambert said his party was overjoyed at the results.

He said the party narrowly missed winning a fourth ward. This was Ward 32, which includes Woodlands, parts of Northdale and the city centre.

“We lost that ward by just 100 votes and would have won it if there hadn’t been an independent also contesting the seat,” said Lambert.

He added that the DA is now the official opposition in the city. “We are grateful to the voters who have given us such a valued endorsement. We will not let you down,” said Lambert.

Commenting about the Msunduzi results, KZN Premier Zweli Mkhize said the people had spoken. He said the outcome demonstrated a huge confidence in the ANC. “We are moved and we are grateful,” he said.

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