Sombre voting mood

2014-11-27 00:00

BY-ELECTIONS in Mooi/Mpofana were running smoothly by late ­yesterday afternoon, but in a sombre and sober mood.

Voting stations were to close at 9 pm last night.

This election had its genesis in ­violent service delivery protests that saw the local council dissolved.

In the build up to the election, DA candidate and former councillor Ken Dennyshen was electrocuted while putting up an election poster on a lamppost. The mood was sombre for the DA, which seemed to be enjoying greater support in ward one where many voters said they made an extra effort to vote, because “they were doing it for Ken”.

The ANC’s campaign was sober with many of the party’s most senior ­provincial members manning their election table outside the voting stations. The party seemed to retain its popularity in Bruntville, where voters were vocal in their support for the ANC.

Friends Zamo Mchunu, Nathi Nxele, Malusi Mchunu and Lethu Madlala had all voted and were enjoying a braai near the voting station. The friends had not given up on the party and were giving it a second chance.

Madalala said: “We want to see ­development and factories and people working. We believe that the ANC as the largest political party in the country can deliver this to us in Mpofana.”

Moses Mabhida regional ­chairperson Supa Zuma, who was at the Bruntville voting station, said the ­by-election marked a new beginning and a second chance for the town.

As voters streamed past, Zuma said they were humbled by the support. “We are impressed that they are coming out in their numbers,” he said.

At the town hall, DA provincial leader Sizwe Mchunu captured the mood of his fellow campaigners when he said it was a sad day for them. “Today’s ­election brings memories of our fallen hero, but in the same breath we are thrilled and appreciate the support we are getting. Many of the people who coming to our table are saying that they want to do this for Ken,” Mchunu said.

For MP and Mooi Mpofana constituency leader Greg Krumbock the entire experience was surreal. He had to pick up and run with the campaign after his friend’s death. The IEC had ruled that Denysschen would appear on the ballot paper for wards one and four and remained on top of the DA list on the second ballot paper to vote for the party.

Krumbock said he had heard of another instance with a dead candidate on the ballot paper in local government elections in the Western Cape. Candidate Farouk Abrahams also died suddenly after nominations were signed with the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC). Krumbock said Abrahams ended up getting the single biggest number of votes in Mitchell’s Plain.

The DA in Mooi River were hoping for a similar effect. Resident Alen Butler said his vote was “for Ken”.

“He worked for everyone in this town and we did not help him enough,” Butler said.

ANC party campaigners were surprised to see new kid on the block the African Independent Congress (AIC) fielding candidates in the Mooi/Mpofana by-election.

The AIC, a party with its roots in Matatiele, became a serious electoral contender when it contested national elections earlier this year, getting three seats in national Parliament.

Many commentators felt this was because the party shared a similar name and the ­election colours of the ANC.

The AIC candidate Snotty Barnes Sibisi said he was standing because he wanted to see his town changed. “The government is giving ­money to municipalities for service delivery, but people are eating that money, buying fancy houses and cars. We want to see service delivery in this town,” he said.

The most jolly of the campaigners were the IFP who had a large van bedecked with ­speakers, loud hailers and music. Ladysmith councillor Abbas Warasally, who was in Mpofana to help with the campaign, said they were upbeat about their chances at the polls.

“Drive around this municipality and you will see that it is falling apart, it is finished; there has to be change,” Warasally said.

Meanwhile, businessperson Donovan Carter is reserving judgment. He believes a new ­council won’t make much of a difference because the real problem lay with errant officials who weren’t working.

Carter said Mpofana was a beautiful town, but it needed a shake up — not just new ­councillors, but municipal staff who needed to get working.

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