Young, disillusioned voters up for grabs in Namaqualand

2016-07-14 18:00
ANC. (Picture: Supplied)

Cape Town - While the Nama Khoi mayor has said it will take time to turn around the local municipality, the African National Congress believes it will again get the majority of votes in the upcoming local government elections after vigorous door-to-door campaigning.

And the ruling party said it was not intimidated by an Economic Freedom Fighters office that had opened up in Springbok two years ago.

The Democratic Alliance and EFF, meanwhile, believed they would gain strong footholds by offering alternative strategies to reduce unemployment and improve service delivery.

The EFF was specifically focusing its efforts on young and first-time voters.

After visiting the area recently, News24 found some residents to be cynical about the power of their vote, or frustrated that service delivery was not meeting their needs.

A few said they would switch parties in the hope of improving their lives.

The local municipality, which stretches up to the Namibian border, is made up of former mission stations and mining towns. The region receives flocks of tourists for its annual burst of wild flowers across the arid landscape.

At the centre of the region, in Springbok, many young people were hanging around liquor stores or waiting for work on street corners during the day.

In the 2011 local government elections, the ANC received the most votes in the municipality, with 48.94%. The DA came second, with 35.62% of the vote, followed by the Congress of the People, with 15.4%.

The two opposition parties took control by forming a coalition. The ANC won a by-election in 2013, taking over the majority of council seats and the running of the municipality.

'ANC will stay in control'

Mayor Boeboe van Wyk, 63, recently told News24 that when he came to power, the municipality was beset with financial and political issues.

He believed political stability had been achieved, but that it would take two years to make a complete turnaround.

ANC elections co-ordinator for the municipality, Lorenzo Faber, agreed.

The ANC would maintain control because it had managed to stabilise the municipality over the past two years, he said.

The party was trying to address residents’ complaints about job creation and the housing waiting list.

As for apathetic voters, Faber said he believed voter turnout in Nama Khoi would be as high as 70%, just as in 2011, and that the EFF was not a major role player.

Sarah Booyes, the EFF’s elections co-ordinator in the region, begged to differ.

"We are very positive and there is a good increase within our elections campaign," she said. Their focus was on better service delivery and sustainable job creation.

She said there were about 100 members for each of the 30 wards in the district municipality.

There are nine wards in the local municipality.

"What we are sure of is that EFF will have a lot of representation with the local municipality. At this stage, we will not comment on possible coalitions."

Coalitions problematic

The DA, coming off a failed coalition, said it would think very carefully before entering such a partnership again. It believed the EFF would split the ANC votes.

Wouter Jordaan, the DA’s mayoral candidate for Nama Khoi, said being part of a coalition was problematic.

"That doesn’t work, and I think we have learnt quite a few lessons out of that, not only in Namaqualand, but for the whole party as such," he said.

"We will definitely think two or three times before we go into a coalition. We want to go solid for the wards and we have some by-elections that we could test ourselves in this rally."

He said many people complained about the quality of their "Mandela houses", the first batches of government-built houses for the poor handed over after 1994.

"Within 23 years of democracy, the ANC blames everything that goes wrong on our coalition and that was only for two years,” he said with a laugh.

Jordaan said their eyes were on 35% of votes in the local municipality.

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