DA trounces ANC in by-elections
By Hassan Isilow & Munadia Karaan
The Democratic Alliance (DA) on Wednesday (Nov 7) defeated five political parties in a fiercely contested by-election in ward 58 Johannesburg. The DA candidate Osman Cassiem, won by a margin of 50%. The by-elections were contested by six candidates including the ANC’S Muhammad Yousuf Cajee, Al-Jama-ah’s Ebrahim Sarang and Vida Lorette Minnaar of the Congress of the People. Other contestants included Marcelle Caroline Lemour of the National Freedom Party and Stephen Katz of the South African Progressive Civic Organisation.
The seat for Ward 58 became vacant after the former Ward Councillor, Zaytoon Waja of the DA, resigned her seat. “It’s good that the DA won the by-elections, because they worked very hard for it. They went from house to house and connected with the voters,” ward 58 residents, Boyal Mohammed related. He also claimed that the ANC, who had held the seat for the past decade, had neglected the ward.
“Before the ANC lost this seat last year, they had done very little for the residents in terms of service delivery,” he said, adding that there was a lot of litter in the streets while broken pavements went unrepaired. In his response, the ANC’S Muhammad Yousuf Cajee vowed to continue working with the community, even after losing the by-elections. “I am a community person and I pledge to continue working for the benefit of ward 58 residents,” he pledged.
Conceding defeat, Sarang of Al Jama-ah congratulated Cassiem on his win. However, party leader, Ganief Hendricks – who had predicted that the party would win the seat – blamed the result on a low poll of 24%. “This is the hardest and most expensive by-election that we took on, but we take comfort in that we increased our share of the poll from 5% to 7%, while the other five parties more or less made no improvement, except for the DA who increased their share by 1%. We had 100 campaign workers in the field and distributed over 100,000 flyers over the month long campaign.”
Hendricks said the fact that the party claimed the third highest number of votes was a major achievement given that COPE got less than 1% of the vote. “Unless we get more Muslim voters to register and vote, winning a ward is going to be tough. We need a second councillor in the City of Johannesburg to second our motions and we will continue trying. We expect the next by-election to be in Lenasia and there is no reason why we should not be successful as the suburbs are mostly Muslim.”
According to Hendricks, in the previous two by-elections in the City of Cape Town’s Lavender Hill and Manenberg, the party doubled its votes, but it still fell short of winning a ward. He said if this trend continues, the party is set to reach its target of 7% of the Cape vote and 2% of the national vote. The Party now has its eye on Durban and the North Western Cape which includes Rustenburg, Zeerust and Lichtenberg where the party has an active branch. It will test its support in the first by-elections for 2013 in these two provinces, Hendricks said. For now, he thanked all those who voted for Al Jama-ah, “and the many volunteers who walked the streets. More important is the duahs (Prayers) of ours supporters all over the country.”
Meanwhile, the ANC also lost a ward that includes Lonmin’s Marikana mine to an independent candidate in a by-election on Wednesday. Fifteen by-elections were held on Wednesday in eight provinces including the North West, Western Cape and Gauteng. About 29,000 of the 83,000 registered residents voted, indicating a low voter turnout consistent with by-election trends.
Thirty-two-year-old Mogomotsi Molefe upstaged the ANC candidate in Rustenburg’s Ward 33 by a margin of 67 votes, in an area where the government’s treatment of poor communities recently came under scrutiny after police shot and killed 34 striking mineworkers at a Lonmin’s Marikana mine on August 16. The ANC had won the ward in last year’s municipal elections, attaining more than two-thirds of the vote, and Wednesday’s loss may be seen as the first indicator of the extent to which local communities may have become disillusioned with the governing party since the Marikana tragedy. This article was first published on http://www.vocfm.co.za