ANC councillor Dumisani Gegula and his maroon ANC-branded Toyota Corolla. (Wim Pretorius, News24)
Rustenburg - The ANC is determined to win back a ward it lost to the UDM, in an informal settlement on the outskirts of political battleground Marikana.
During a visit to the platinum belt in the North West town this week, News24 visited Zakhele, where the UDM won 47% of the votes cast during the 2014 national elections.
During the national elections in 2009, the party only managed to get 18% of the votes.
UDM president Bantu Holomisa told News24 on Friday that he had campaigned for votes in the platinum belt recently.
“The UDM is popular in that part of the world. We beat the ANC in a number of stations,” he said.
However, during News24’s visit in the area, there was no visible sign that the UDM was the dominant party in the area.
Residents said the area was led by an African National Congress councillor and that the only candidate councillor they knew of was from the ANC.
That candidate is Dumisani Gegula, 42, a former Anglo American Platinum miner. He drives around the ward in a maroon Toyota Corolla branded with ANC logos and President Jacob Zuma’s face on it. The car was his, but the branding was sponsored, he told News24.
Although the ANC had lost a lot of votes during the last elections, they were confident they would win them back this year.
Gegula and some residents said the reason the ANC experienced a drop in the national and provincial election results in the area, was because of the tension which followed the killing of 34 striking Lonmin miners during a wage-related strike in Marikana in August 2012. A total of 44 people were killed that month, including security guards and police officers.
This led people to vote for the UDM. He said the UDM, ANC, and EFF had contested the ward and “things are changing”, Gegula said, gesturing with his hands.
Gegula moved to Rustenburg in 2001, hoping to find a job on the mines. He spent many years there without a job. He was eventually hired in 2011 and laid off in 2015.
Another miner, Thozamile Pendu, 40, lost his job at Anglo American Platinum in 2013. He believed that the UDM gained popularity in Zakhele because Holomisa provided leadership when the ANC seemed to have turned its back on the miners.
“With what happened in Marikana, we don’t know what the ANC did there. The ANC didn’t fight for the workers in Marikana. That is where the UDM took advantage and came in. The ANC should not have opened that gap in Marikana.”
He said the atmosphere across the platinum belt during that time was tense. People lost trust in the ruling party and its affiliated unions, and were being wooed by the UDM, the Economic Freedom Fighters and the unaffiliated Association of Mineworkers and Construction Union (Amcu).
“The tone that UDM used when it was speaking to people made us think we could trust them; the way he (Holomisa) sold the party to us was where he got us.”
Pendu said both the UDM and EFF spoke the same language and did not appear to be competing in the area.
“EFF and UDM speak along similar lines. The tone that the UDM president uses is the same one that that young man uses,” Pendu said, referring to EFF leader Julius Malema.
“We don’t see them as competitors. I think even if the UDM wins the ward, the EFF will be fine with it.”
The UDM’s North West co-ordinator Akhona Masondo said Holomisa harmed the party when he publicly appeared to be supporting the EFF at an event in Marikana in 2013.
Holomisa surprised many when he attended the event and spoke on stage welcoming the EFF to the political arena and gave them tips on how to survive.
“The mistake that confused people was when our president made it look like we were working together with the EFF. That was not the case.”
“That mistake was made by our president and he has admitted that himself, but now we are trying to rectify that and stand alone,” she said.
She laughed off claims that residents in the area were only aware of one candidate campaigning, saying the UDM had a candidate contesting as well.
The reason why the party had little to no visibility in the area was because posters had been sent back to the printers after a mistake was spotted on them. They were expected to be ready either by the end of Friday or Saturday, she said.
She was confident the UDM would win the ward come August 3.
“We are taking it sisi, call me after the 3rd,” she said.
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