POLITICAL NEWS - By-elections were held in the Western Cape on Wednesday, providing what elections analyst Dawie Scholtz called the “first meaningful DA data post-Maimane”.
The results included the ANC winning in Vredendal North (Ward 4), where the DA were previously in control.
While the DA held the Wesbank (Ward 19) and Tafelsig (Ward 82) municipalities, they showed a drop of 20% in Tafelsig and 17% in Wesbank.
Scholtz considered the results in these “predominantly coloured areas” to be “disastrous” for the party.
According to Scholtz, these results look “a lot [exactly] like the trend before the Maimane/Mashaba resignations”.
“Looks a lot like DA numbers in the Western Cape in 2006-2009. So about a decade’s worth of brand-building has been reversed,” he added.
Scholtz’ take on the results can be juxtaposed with that of another person considered knowledgeable when it comes to by-elections, Wayne Sussman.
While Scholtz called the results a “disastrous”, Sussman’s response was milder, although both acknowledged the DA’s losses.
“These results will concern the DA but they do not suggest that the DA are in danger of losing control of the City of Cape Town. These results do, however, suggest that they could lose many councillors if this trend continues,” said Sussman.
The party’s Western Cape leader, Bonginkosi Madikizela, told EWN on Wednesday that victories in all three wards yesterday would have shown the public that the DA was back on track following the crises that have befallen the party in the past month, which included the resignations of members including former leader Mmusi Maimane, former federal chairperson Athol Trollip, and outgoing Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba.
“If we retain the three wards, it will send a strong message that the party is turning the corner because there’s no denying that the party has faced a very difficult time and challenges over the last month,” he said.
The loss of one ward and decline in two others follows the DA winning two by-elections following Maimane’s resignation, Msunduzi (Ward 33) in the Western Cape and Blue Crane (Ward 2) in the Eastern Cape. The party grew by almost 20% in the former and just over 3% in the latter.
The party’s spokesperson Solly Malatsi hailed the victories as proof that “no setback is permanent”.
According to Malatsi, the DA is “showing impressive momentum following a difficult period. This is testament of the strength of our solid organisation, professional staff, and credible internal processes”.