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North West - The thought of taking on the ANC in an election was beyond his wildest imagination, but Stone Mahlabe has no regrets about snatching votes in Tlokwe.
In fact, Mahlabe – the independent candidate who trounced the ANC in the troubled North West municipality’s Ward 26 during last week’s by-election – is pleased that he has proved that the ANC, “for all its arrogance”, is not invincible.
“I never thought I’d campaign (for an election) against the ANC. I loved the party so much that it was like my religion. But I am proud that I took on the ANC and won,” Mahlabe told The Star on Sunday.
Mahlabe notched 1 425 votes, compared to the 900 that the ANC’s candidate in Ward 26, Oupa Mogoshane, received. In total, 5 677 people were registered to vote in the ward and almost 50 percent of the eligible voters (2 374) didn’t cast their ballot. The same trend of voter apathy was recorded in wards 6 and 18, which were won by the ANC.
Mahlabe recounted how he had travelled “the length and breath of Potchefstroom”, campaigning for the ANC.
He spoke of his pain at how “the ANC I have sacrificed so much for chased me and (13) other councillors like useless dogs for fighting corruption” against then Tlokwe mayor Maphetle Maphetle.
“My love for the ANC was so deep I used to tell people there was no party other than the ANC. I never thought that the ANC could expel us for fighting corruption because the leaders used to preach that the war against corruption was part of the party’s policy. But they never listened to us. It was like the mayor was their priority.
“It (the expulsion) surprised us. We had to leave the party for the sake of the community. They used to boast that the ANC is like a big elephant and that it is slow to attack, (but) you never survive. I am happy that I took on this big elephant and won.”
Professor André Duvenhage, a political analyst at North West University’s Potchefstroom campus, said Mahlabe’s victory was the biggest upset to the ANC.
“The election result shows that the ANC is under pressure and vulnerable. Even the misuse of state resources such as (handing out) food parcels, RDP houses and signing people for social grants didn’t help,” Duvenhage said.