Western Cape by-elections

Mitchells Plain / Image via Wikimedia Commons

Three by-elections to test the Western Cape’s political currents

Results in all three by-elections are expected by Thursday morning.

Western Cape by-elections

Mitchells Plain / Image via Wikimedia Commons

Three by-elections taking place across the Western Cape on Wednesday could provide a strong indication of whether the DA has been able to turn the tide in its provincial heartland.

It will be the first Western Cape test for the DA since the recent resignation of three prominent DA figures – its leader Mmusi Maimane, federal chairperson Athol Trollip and Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba.

In by-elections held mostly in the Eastern Cape and KwaZulu Natal last week, there were indications that the DA may be able to halt its recent electoral slide. The party performed solidly in all wards it contested and retained two marginal wards, in Pietermaritzburg and Somerset East respectively.

But Pietermaritzburg and Somerset East are worlds removed from the Western Cape, not to mention places like Bethal, Stilfontein and Potchefstroom, where the DA has recently been eclipsed by the Freedom Front Plus.

By-elections in Kuils River, Mitchell’s Plain and Vredendal

Much political interest is therefore being focused on the outcome of this week’s three by-elections, taking place in Kuils River, Mitchell’s Plain and Vredendal, respectively.

Cape Town ward 19 is in Kuils River, centred on the area around the technical high school and the neighbourhoods of Kalkfontein and Wesbank. The ward has mostly coloured and black voters, with roughly two thirds of the inhabitants being Afrikaans speaking and 17% using Xhosa as their home language.

In the 2016 local government elections, the DA took roughly two thirds of the vote in the ward, which means that although they won comfortably, it is not one of their strongest wards in Cape Town. This time around, they may have to work harder. Because seven candidates. Representing the ACDP, ANC, DA, Democratic Independent Party, EFF, Good and Organic Humanity Movement respectively, are on the ballot.

Cape Town ward 82 is the Tafelsig neighbourhood in Mitchell’s Plain. It is a typical urban working class Coloured community with an unusual party political history. Although it has generally supported the DA since the party was founded in 2000, it has also shown loyalty to Good leader Patricia de Lille, with De Lille’s previous party, the Independent Democrats, taking the seat off the DA in 2006 only for the DA to regain it shortly thereafter and hold it ever since.

DA unlikely to achieve former successes

With no fewer than ten candidates contesting, the DA will be hard pressed to equal its 2016 support level of 83% in the ward, although it was in Tafelsig that scores of Good members crossed to the DA over the last weekend. The ten candidates in this week’s poll include three independents as well as candidates for the ACDP, ANC, Cape Party, DA, Democratic Independent Party, EFF and Good.

The toughest nut for the DA to crack this week will be holding on to ward 4 of the Matzikama municipality in the extreme north west of the province. The ward is situated in the predominantly coloured community of Vredendal North and was for many years an ANC stronghold, being then bailiwick of former Western Cape ANC leader Marius Fransman.

In 2016 the DA won the ward with 49.6% of the vote, but this time six parties are contesting, namely the ACDP, ANC, DA, EFF, Good and the Khoisan Heavenly Party.

Results in all three by-elections are expected by Thursday morning.