George - Despite claims of political interference, racism and corruption on the eve of the local government election, the DA has again emerged victorious and increased its support in the George Municipality.
With 93.22% of stations counted, and a voter turnout of 60.22%, the DA on Friday stood on 55.80% of the vote, with 31 586 having made their cross next to the blue party.
Their support increased from 2011, when it won with 51.01%.
The ANC, despite being endorsed by former DA mayor Charles Standers last week, dropped to 28.39%, down from the 39.66% garnered in 2011.
ANC mayoral candidate Piet van der Hoven said the party had been hoping for a better result.
"You don’t go into a game expecting to lose," he said. "We lost because things like the weather was against us. People from our base areas didn’t come up."
Van der Hoven said the ANC would now focus on being the "best opposition for the interests of all citizens of George".
"Over the next four years, we would like to see the DA service our disadvantaged areas as they do these first-world neighbourhoods.
"We want to see them be pro-poor and partial to those in need. It’s not just about clean audits – we want proper service delivery.”
'I hope to make a dent in unemployment'
DA mayoral candidate Melvin Naik said he was pleased with the victory and was looking forward to his five years in office.
Naik, a former portfolio councillor for civil engineering services, planned to focus on infrastructural upgrades in disadvantaged areas in his municipality during the first half of his term.
"I also want to give attention to investment into George and growing our economy," he told News24 on Friday.
Unemployment was another issue in need to urgent attention, Naik said.
"I hope to make a dent in unemployment, especially through skills training, so that people can do something for themselves."
Last week, outgoing mayor Standers endorsed the ANC after he resigned from the DA and his position, citing "deeply troubling" interference from party's regional structures in the work of the local municipality. He also criticized the silence from the DA's George caucus over corruption in the municipality, and pointed to "racist practices" within the local caucus.
He asked that his name be removed from the party's proportional representation list for the elections.
Standers, who was in the news following the alleged assault on his wife during an argument over car keys earlier this year, said the DA had leaked untested charges against him to the media, tarnishing his "integrity, character and personhood".
The DA dismissed his claims, and confirmed that Standers was being investigated for financial mismanagement.