The Eastern Cape province has been an ANC stronghold, but that could change. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
The Eastern Cape province has been an ANC stronghold, but that could change. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

The ANC and the DA in Buffalo City Metro will go head-to-head in two by-elections on June 20.

The two parties will try to retain their respective wards.

The Eastern Cape has become a happy electoral hunting ground for the DA. In previous years the province had been an ANC stronghold.

However, the DA has made significant inroads in the province, with its most notable success being Nelson Mandela Bay, where it leads a coalition.

The Buffalo City by-elections follow the resignation of DA ward 18 councillor David Vianne; while in ward 21, the position has been vacant since the death of ANC ward councillor Mlandeli Ngabayena in April.

The DA in ward 18 has fielded businessman Jason McDowell to defend a ward that the party already governs, against the ANC’s Andrew Sokolich, another businessman.

DA constituency leader in the metro Kevin Mileham said his party was confident it would retain ward 18.

He said the party, however, did not field any candidate for ward 21, which covers Mdantsane’s NU13, NU12, Mdantsane West and Riverine.

"We have not fielded any candidate for ward 21. However, we are confident of our win in ward 18.

"The [DA] ... has been doing good work in the ward and the residents are seeing evidence of that work. We are going to continue the fight for better services for residents," said Mileham.

The ANC held two branch general meetings in both wards to nominate their candidates: Pumele Fini, for ward 21; and Sokolich, for ward 18.

The ANC’s RW Rubusana region’s head of elections, Sinethemba Mashalaba, said the party was confident it would retain ward 21 and gain more ground in the city by winning the DA’s ward 18.

He said the campaigning for ward 18 started in 2016 and the fruits of that labour would be seen come voting time.

"The ANC has previously taken DA wards such as ward 3 … and it is possible to take ward 18. We have put in a capable candidate who we are confident will win the ward," he said.

The EFF last week confirmed that it too would contest the by-elections in both wards, although it had yet to announce its candidates.

Provincial convener Yazini Tetyana said: "We are contesting all by-elections in the province, including the two in [Buffalo City Metro], we are on the ground."

He said the party was already campaigning in both wards, adding that they were happy with the growth and progress made by the party in the region.

The five-year-old party has eight proportional representation councillors in Buffalo City Metro, but has yet to govern a ward in the region.