Polls were held in 22 municipal wards on Wednesday, prompted by either the death or resignation of councillors.
According to the Independent Electoral Commission, the African National Congress won 17 of them, the Democratic Alliance five.
The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal said on Thursday its victory in four of the five by-elections in that province was “a foretaste of what will happen in the upcoming general elections”.
Among the wards it won was ward two in Okhahlamba (Bergville) municipality, which was previously held by the National Freedom Party.
The ruling party took it with 42 percent of the votes cast in a 58 percent poll. The only other ward out of the 22 contested to actually change hands was in the same province.
Ward 70 in eThekwini (Durban Metro) municipality was taken by the DA, going to the same councillor who had previously represented the Minority Front, but resigned.
Eastern Cape DA leader Athol Trollip praised his party’s performance in that region.
By-elections were held in wards five and nine in Kouga (Humansdorp) municipality, ward two in Mnquma (Butterworth) municipality, and ward 13 in Nkonkobe (Alice) municipality.
The DA retained ward five in Kouga, while the ANC kept control of the rest. Trollip said the DA had shown “stunning growth” in Kouga’s ward nine.
“We grew from 33 percent of the vote [in the 2011 local government election] to 44 percent of the vote, in the face of desperate intimidation by the ANC.”
The DA candidate in ward nine had obtained 44 percent of the vote.
“In ward two in Mnquma the result was particularly exciting, where we grew from 8.7 percent of the vote to 21 percent,” he said.
Such growth showed the DA was on track to do well in the 2014 elections in the Eastern Cape, Trollip said. The ANC in Gauteng said it was “very ecstatic” about its victories in the two wards contested in that province.
Ward 96 in Ekurhuleni (East Rand) municipality and ward 12 in Emfuleni (Vereeniging) municipality were both retained by the ANC.
“The ANC win with big margins in the two wards shows that people have confidence in its ability to deliver beyond 2014. The opposition combined was heavily defeated with all getting shameful meagre votes,” it said in a statement.
“The people came out in large numbers to exercise their rights and to show the opposition that they do not represent the aspirations of the communities.”
According to results posted on the IEC’s website, voter turnout in both wards was relatively low, totalling 23 percent and 16 percent respectively.
DA Limpopo leader Jacques Smalle said the DA was making inroads into the ANC’s support base.
His party on Wednesday won the single by-election in the province, retaining ward eight in Modimolle (Nylstroom) municipality with 65 percent of the votes cast.
“The DA continues to grow in all communities across South Africa. The by-election results from across the country yesterday [Wednesday] show a similar trend: the DA retained all of its wards with increased majorities, and made inroads into the ANC support in every ANC ward we contested.”
In a statement on Thursday, the IEC said voter turnout for the by-elections had “varied between 69.11 percent and 15.12 percent, with an average of 32.59 percent”.
A total of 117,984 voters were registered in the 22 wards and 92 voting districts around the country where the by-elections took place.