Citizen reporter
3 minute read
14 Nov 2019
10:30 am

DA’s Western Cape by-election results ‘disastrous’ – analyst

Citizen reporter

The party lost a ward to the ANC and showed declining support in two others in a reversal of gains made following two by-election victories last week.

Bonginkosi Madikizela. Photo: Gallo Images / Rapport / Jaco Marais

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.

READ MORE: DA’s downward by-election trend recovers, mixed bag for ANC

DA federal council chairperson Helen Zille responded on Twitter to Scholtz’ assessment of the situation.

She noted that “it will take time to build again” and that there’s “lots of work to do”, but also provided a possible excuse: “When there are a range of small parties and independents it also splits the vote”.

This was met with criticism from a Twitter user who questioned why Zille has now conceded there is “lots of work to do,” when she had said the party was on “the up and up” following the DA winning two by-elections last week.

“We are on the up but there is still an enormous amount of work to do. Local factors play a large role in by-elections and in the context I felt the results showed we are getting a grip. Sad to lose Matzikama though,” was her response. .

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”.

(Compiled by Daniel Friedman)

For more news your way, download The Citizen’s app for iOS and Android.