Despite internal strife and widespread service delivery protests, the ANC in the North West surpassed its expectations in its elections performance.
The party’s provincial task team coordinator, who is also science and technology minister, Mmamoloko Kubayi-Ngubane, said despite all that was experienced in the province leading to the elections, the team was “elated” at the ANC’s performance.
The ANC retained the majority in the provincial legislature with a 63% victory which is a drop from the 67% achieved in 2014. This was expected to result in a drop from the 23 seats the party held in the provincial legislature in the last five years.
Having gone into the elections under a cloud, Kubayi-Ngubane said the ANC had surpassed its target – which was 60% – in the North West. She said they were aware that opposition parties had thought the party was going to suffer in the elections, giving them a chance to grab the province from the ANC but things did not turn out as expected for them.
“Opposition parties were saying they were taking the North West because of all that was going on and the province was also being identified as a hot spot with threats of protests and elections disruptions which did not happen. We were out there working on the ground, accepted the responsibilities and in return we performed well,” Kubayi-Ngubane said.
The victory in the province, just like nationally for the party, came amid a slight drop in total number of voters comes. A 59.44% of voter turnout was seen in the North West where only 1 012 073 votes were cast from the total of 1 702 728 registered voters. It breaks down to 994 064 of valid votes against 18 009 spoilt votes.
A loss of a seat or two for the ANC means additional seats for the opposition and this time it is the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the Freedom Front Plus (FF+).
The latter will continue its status as majority opposition party having recorded an improvement from 12% in 2014 to 17% this time around which will add to the five seats they had previously held.
An EFF leader in the province, Paiki Babuile, was happy at the party’s performance but said “it could have been better”.
“Our performance in the elections is a good sign that people still have trust in the EFF. We promise not to disappoint them but continue to represent them and their interests in the legislature,” Babuile said.
He did not want to dwell on the election outcome but said they were ready to hit the ground running when they returned to the legislature later this month.
“We intend to ensure that we hold the executive accountable. We’ll ensure that corruption and wrongdoing are exposed,” Babuile said.
“We do not expect things to change because the ANC will deploy a new or old face as the premier … there won’t be any new broom because the people who were there when things went wrong are still there. The EFF will be there and we promise to keep guard for citizens of this province.”
The days of loneliness will soon be over for the FF+ when the provincial legislature opens its chambers. The party will have one additional seat after its outgoing member of the provincial legislature, Hannes Schutte, occupied the party’s only seat for the past five years. The party recorded a sterling improvement from 1.7% in the previous general elections to 4% this year.
“We’re proud of our performance, which is the fruit of hard work by all of us as a team. We will return to the legislature to push for those who are responsible for the wrongdoing in government to pay for their sins … like a case we have already opened for Mahumapelo to be investigated and held responsible for his wrong deeds,” said the party’s provincial leader, Michael Groenewald.
The DA dropped from 12% in 2014 national elections to 11% this year. The party said it had lost some votes to the FF+.
The DA’s provincial head; Joe McGluwa, said they were a diverse and non-racial party.
“We received fewer votes than previous elections and lost some votes to the Freedom Front Plus but we’re a party that would want to unite people of this country. We want to base our party on a non-racial society where we would want to be open to everyone,” he said.
“People have made their choice and there are some voters who would want to vote for parties that only cater for a certain race … we respect their choice but we would want to bring the people of this country together as we’re the most diverse political party. We’ll go back to the drawing board and we’ll work hard to win those individuals back.”
Meanwhile Mahumapelo, who said he had also worked hard campaigning where he was deployed, visited the provincial results centre in Mahikeng on Friday. He also expressed his elation at the ANC’s performance but said the party “should be sitting further than where we are now”.
“History will always be the best lesson.”
Mahumapelo said that now that the ANC had emerged victorious once again, “we should not feel triumphalist [but] remain humble and go back to our people and thank them for voting for us”.
He added that the ANC should say to the people of the North West, “you must work with government to deliver services ... we still have roads, clinics, water…. to deliver in many of our areas and the mandate is quite enough now to continue that task”.