Wednesday’s by-elections, showed a small swing towards the EFF and IFP in urban and rural eThekwini areas.
Voter disgruntlement over corruption involving some senior ANC councillors in eThekwini could explain the “tiny swing” from the ruling party to the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and the ANC’s old rival, Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP).
Many observers said it was too early to attribute the development to ANC infighting over the “step aside” policy because if that was the case, it could have shown throughout the country.
In Wednesday’s by-elections, voter trends showed a small swing towards the EFF and IFP in major urban and rural eThekwini areas.
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The EFF also made inroads in the rural Ilembe district municipality, a traditional a battleground of the ANC and IFP. Although the EFF may not have won any wards in KwaZulu-Natal, the party showed small growth in the province where the ANC had a stranglehold on major towns. But the IFP monopolised rural towns.
This was seen as an interesting development by election analysts, who observed a shift from the ANC to both the IFP and the EFF in the eThekwini and Ilembe municipalities.
Political analyst Xolani Dube attributed the improved performance by EFF and IFP to corruption involving ANC officials and politicians in eThekwini.
Dube also highlighted the fact that many councillors in the metro were outsiders or “not born and bred” in eThekwini and the vote was a no-confidence move against them. He said some councillors came from places such as Umzimkulu and Kokstad and “cared less about the needs of eThekwini residents”.
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“The people of eThekwini are beginning to vote with their consciences against ANC corruption,” Dube said.
Another analyst, Dawie Scholtz, described the EFF’s tiny performance improvement in various wards in the province as “big swings” that could have a huge impact on the national percentage for the governing ANC.
Scholtz highlighted the EFF performances in eThekwini ward six: 22%, which represented an increase of 19 points; KwaDukuza ward five: 1% (-); Maphumulo ward five: 6% (+4); Maphumulo ward seven: 3% (-); Ubuhlebezwe ward
four: 23% (+10); and Umzimkulu ward 20: 31% (+24).
Amid a flurry of criticism over his views based on the tiny changes, Scholtz concluded that this near replication of the 2019 results by the ANC promised to drag down its national percentage in future elections.
The EFF increased its tally from 2% in 2016 to 6% this week at ward 5 in Maphumulo in Ilembe municipality. The ANC grew from 35% to 48% while the IFP went down to 46% from 62%.
The ward based at Indukwende was an IFP stronghold and the ANC performance surprised many in the municipality. It won 32 votes.
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But the IFP gained solace when it retained Lindelani in the same ward five, trashing the ANC by 39% to 35%. Here the EFF shared the small spoils with the Al Jama-ah party at 1% each, both beaten by independent candidates.
Another election analyst, Wayne Sussman, described this as a “crucial IFP hold”.
Dube was concerned that the ANC managed to win many wards nationally and even gained some wards from the Democratic Alliance (DA) in the Western Cape and the IFP in KwaZulu-Natal.
“The winning of the ANC must be worrying as it shows that people accept corruption as normal in our society. The election is a ritual thought consciousness and that’s scary,” Dube said.