Durban - The Minority Front suffered a massive blow in on Wednesday’s by-elections, losing wards in Phoenix and Amichand Rajbansi’s Ward 73 in Chatsworth.
This means the MF will lose its executive committee seat and will be overtaken by the IFP as the fourth largest party in the eThekwini council.
The DA was jubilant on Thursday, saying the victory spelled an end for MF dominance in the predominantly Indian townships.
“The ANC should be really worried. We will actually seal the Indian areas in 2016. The MF is done. I can say that boldly... they are not a threat anymore,” said Zwakele Mncwango, leader of the DA caucus in eThekwini.
Independent political commentator Thabani Khumalo said the loss marked the beginning of the end for the MF.
“The problem with the MF is that it was built around one individual (Amichand Rajbansi). Unfortunately he failed to do succession planning. That led to leadership squabbles after his death. With these squabbles voters tend to look elsewhere for leadership.”
MF spokesman, Patrick Pillay, and party leader, Shameen Thakur-Rajbansi, could not be reached for comment.
The by-elections in Phoenix’s ward 52 and Chatsworth’s ward 73 were held after two MF councillors jumped ship to join the DA. Councillors Bradley Singh (Ward 52) and Devraj Pillay (Ward 73) retained their seats, albeit with new party colours.
Amichand Rajbansi had resided in Ward 73 until his death. It had been seen as the party’s stronghold.
In ward 52 Singh got 54.4% of the vote, while Pillay won the Chatsworth ward with 70.5%.
This means the DA increases its representation in the eThekwini Municipality to 46 members. The MF is reduced to eight councillors.
With its nine members, the IFP qualifies for the executive committee seat.
Mdu Nkosi, leader of the IFP in the eThekwini council, was delighted with the prospect of the IFP being represented on the executive committee. He said this would give the party more muscle to execute its oversight role.
“We will have more power than what we have now. Some of the Exco members are there as spectators and are not holding the ruling party to account. The person who goes there will not be representing the IFP but the people of eThekwini.”
He said his party would decide who would represent it on the executive committee.
The DA also retained two other wards it contested in eThekwini.
In Ward 18 (Pinetown and Westville) Bruce Sutcliffe won by 91.17%.
In the 2011 local government elections the DA had won that ward by 77.5%.
In Ward 36 (Durban North), Shaun Ryley won by 94.5%, showing a marked increase from the 84.3% the DA got in the 2011 elections.
The DA also retained Ward 22 in KwaDukuza.
The IFP retained Ward 6 in Hlabisa municipality while the ANC held Ward 4 in Dundee.