Considering Ndlambe’s polling

The local government election results in Ndlambe reflect the national trends.

The ANC made considerable losses, the DA lost a bit of support but consolidated it elsewhere, and the EFF made gains.

Nationally, it’s interesting to note the DA has reverted to about the same level of support – 22% – it had in the 2000 municipal elections, after reaching a high of nearly 27% five years ago.

ANC support has dropped steadily from 64.82% in 2006, 61.95% in 2011 and 53.91% in 2016, to just 45.6%.

The rise of ActionSA is something to watch, but it’s mainly a Johannesburg phenomenon. Something that happened in other areas but was absent in Ndlambe is the success of independent candidates.

The ANC is still strong over most of the Eastern Cape, with 62.99% of the total vote. In Ndlambe, it received 52.61% of the vote, compared to the DA’s 30.28% and the EFF’s 14.69%.

The majority of the EFF vote in Ndlambe was concentrated in the central wards of 7, 8 and 9 – all part of Nemato – and Bathurst/Nolukhanyo (Ward 5).

The success of the EFF in this area can be attributed essentially to one man, Xolisa Runeli, who has surrounded himself with loyal acolytes. But without him, it doesn’t seem likely the party would have fared as well.

But as busy as he is, Runeli can only stretch himself so thin. Although he made an impact on voters in Bathurst due to the EFF’s involvement in labour issues on farms and service delivery issues in Nolukhanyo, his influence does not extend to the western wards where EFF support is still small.

As much as EFF policies might appeal to angry and disillusioned township residents, the personality of the candidate was key.

Not so for the DA. Both of its candidates who won ward seats are newcomers on the political scene and not widely known. For the Ward 10 and Ward 6 residents who voted DA, it was about keeping the party strong to fend off the ANC and EFF.

Although many Port Alfred residents have expressed frustration and disappointment in the party’s approach to the water crisis and particularly in the former Ward 10 councillor, it mattered less to them who the candidate was.

Many people are perplexed that the ANC still has strong majority support, but that is also a party thing. Its supporters remain loyal to the ANC brand, even if there are councillors and deployed officials who disappoint them.

But there is evidence of this support dwindling every election.

– Jon Houzet

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