Cape Town – Six months after casting their ballots, registered voters from two wards in George will be back at the polls on Wednesday after two ward councillors died just over a week of each other.
Ward 11 DA councillor Lulamile Xesi died in a fire at his home on September 25 while the ANC’s Ward 25 councillor, Marlin du Preez, died of a heart attack on October 4.
Whichever party wins the two wards would not make a significant impact on the balance of power in George after the DA won 55% of the vote in the August 3 local government poll.
Earlier this week Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa visited the area, and canvassed there, telling ANC supporters to capitalise on the cracks in opposition parties.
The ANC had also held its January 8 birthday celebration, regional rally in George where it canvassed for support from voters in the two wards.
In Ward 25 (Uniondale) the ANC’s margin of victory on August 3 was a mere 94 votes more than that of the DA, and in Ward 11(Thembalethu) which was previously a strong ANC ward, the DA’s margin of victory was 111 votes.
ANC provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs said the ANC should have won Ward 11 the last time but chalked the party’s loss down to the unpopularity of the candidate it fielded.
“This time we’re optimistic that we’ll win (the ward),” said Jacobs.
Ward 25 had always been a strong ANC ward due to the rural nature of its voters, where most of the party’s support comes from farmworkers.
He said the ANC’s support remained strong there because there had been no fundamental change in the social fabric of the town, with white farmers still ruling the roost and power relations skewed in their favour.
“Farmers have blocked access to the ANC so that we can’t canvass there,” said Jacobs.
The DA’s campaign manager for the area, Tertius Simmers, admitted that holding on to Ward 11 would be tough.
“In Ward 25, given the amount of canvassing, the DA will be the ultimate choice,” said Simmers.
The DA had 29 of George’s 53 councillor seats.
This means that it would control the municipality at least until the next local government elections are held in 2021.