ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: THAPELO MOREBUDI/THE SUNDAY TIMES
ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa. Picture: THAPELO MOREBUDI/THE SUNDAY TIMES

In one of biggest local government election upsets, the ANC has lost outright control eThekwini Metro. This has now been officially confirmed with 100% of votes in KwaZulu-Natal counted, audited and declared.  

The ANC secured 42.02% of the vote, down from 57% in 2016, while the DA  won 25.62%, the EFF 10.48% and the IFP 7.13%, according to the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC).   

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal has been racked by infighting, assassinations, corruption and breakaways that probably proved decisive in the vote, along with a low voter turnout.

“It is time for introspection,” ANC KZN spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said. “We have to go and meet with our structures and members to determine and get a sense of how they feel. It is true that we have had many conflicts and issues of infighting to deal with.”

The Durban metro had been a comfortable power base for the ANC since 1994, but it was hit by the dismissal of mayor Zandile Gumede and the subsequent loss of her big support base. That, along with the rise of the pro-Jacob Zuma African Transformation Movement (ATM) lobby, and some former ANC leaders standing as independents and the July civil unrest, worked against the party.

Political analyst Protas Madlala said the breakaways and corruption were bound to hurt the party. “The divisions in the party were of a serious nature. Also, we know that party leader [and President] Cyril Ramaphosa was not well received in the metro and the clamp down on corruption was a thorn in the side of those who wanted to make the ANC their permanent power base,” Madlala said. “The July riots definitely hurt the party as is clear with them losing key wards to the DA.”

ANC supporters had had enough of the party’s failings and many had stayed away from the polls, Madlala said.

“The obvious choice for a coalition partner for the ANC is the IFP. Should the ANC decide to get into a marriage with the ANC that could work as the DA did indicate a willingness to work with the ANC under the leadership of Ramaphosa,” he added.

The DA, meanwhile, is celebrating after sweeping the board in Phoenix. The suburb was a volatile flashpoint of the fear, tensions and racial conflict during the devastation of the July unrest.

The party confirmed that it had scored outright wins in all five wards in the township including Ward 52, that was held by the ANC. The win came despite the recent public outcry over election posters in the area that were criticised as racist. The posters placed near the near the Phoenix Plaza read: “The ANC called you racists, the DA calls you heroes”, in reference to residents forming safety patrols at the height of the violence and looting.  The posters were removed after three days.

DA constituent leader Haniff Hoosen, who oversees Phoenix, Verulam and Tongaat north of Durban, said the voters were tired of empty promises and want change. “This win is not about the July unrest; it is about the dedication and the commitment shown by the DA Councillors 24/7,” he said. “We also recorded a landslide victory in Chatsworth and there we did not have any posters and also took a ward away from the ANC”.

The DA has a track record of delivery and went above and beyond what was expected, Hoosen added. “In this and many wards we worked under severe constraints under the leadership of the ANC government, but we pursued despite the challenges and that has paid off.”

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