Oudtshoorn - The DA took control of the Oudtshoorn municipality on Wednesday night when Jurie Harmse won Ward 13.
The DA needed to win one ward of the three contested in by-elections in the Klein Karoo town on Wednesday.
According to reports, in ward 5, the ANC’s Sonja Biljohn got 965 votes to the 714 which the DA’s Hendrik Ruiters received.
In ward 6 , 1 487 votes were cast for the ANC’s Veronica Williams while the DA’s Christina Muller got 1 171.
Harmse was one of three ANC councillors who joined the DA in May and lost their seats. Harmse won 859 or 54 percent of 1 590 votes. He is a former deputy mayor of Oudtshoorn and a former member of the Independent Democrats.
The ANC won 707 or 44 percent of the vote.
In the 2011 local government elections when Harmse ran on an ANC ticket he took the ward with 49 percent of the vote, while the DA had 34 percent.
DA provincial leader Ivan Meyer said the victory was “groundwork” for next year’s election. He said by voting the DA into power, the people of Oudtshoorn had “rejected corruption”.
“I personally want to thank the people of Oudtshoorn for having the confidence in the DA,” Meyer said.
“If we disappoint them, they must take away the vote like they did with the ANC. They were tired of them not delivering for the people and they took away the vote. We will do our best not to disappoint them.”
Meyer said they would start by cleaning up the streets and painting signs in the town. The party’s focus would be service delivery.
Three candidates from South African Progressive Civic Organisation (Sapco) and two independent candidates also ran in the elections.
By-elections were also held in Bitou, George, Overstrand and Berg River. The ANC retained the Bitou ward with 991 votes to the DA’s 881.
The DA kept the George seat with 1 212 votes to the ANC’s 104. The DA also kept the Overstrand ward.
When the Cape Times called outgoing Oudtshoorn mayor Gordon April on Wednesday night, he said: “I can’t hear anything, the wind is blowing.”
He repeated this while someone laughed in the background. There was no wind blowing in Oudtshoorn.
ANC provincial secretary Songezo Mjongile said the loss was a setback for the party and Oudtshoorn. The DA had been in charge of the municipality, but had failed to deliver.
“We went into the by-election with the hopes of defending the municipality,” he said.
“Clearly the loss in Ward 13 shows we need to do more work in connecting with the coloured middle class, which has always understood the ANC’s policies. We have done the first step, reconnect with the ANC base, the poor.”
Cape TImes, Sapa