DURBAN - Thousands of voters flocked to polling stations in KwaZulu-Natal for the municipal by-elections, which concluded without incident throughout the province on Wednesday.
With as much anticipation as the local government elections, political parties pulled out all the stops to win the wards there for the taking.
eThekwini ward 101 saw ANC candidate Mzi Ngiba arrive at a voting station with armed bodyguards. He said they were for his protection as “there was a threat against his life”.
Ward 101, which includes Cato Crest, Berea and Glenmore, was up for grabs after the assassination of councillor Siyabonga Mkhize two weeks before the local government elections last year.
Resident Sanele Hlongwa, who has lived in Mayville for 18 years, said they were disappointed at the ANC for the killings, crime and lack of service delivery, but said it should be given an opportunity to amend its wrongdoings.
“As a community, we are disappointed with the ANC, because of the murders and the services they promise and never deliver. There is nothing we can do despite the killings in the area, we still trust the ANC to change our lives, especially crime. The ANC has to work against corruption and focus on delivering services to the people. We have to vote at the end of the day. So, we will not abandon the party, but it has to change,” said Hlongwa.
Nongoma’s ward 17 was also without incidents despite being one of the most heavily guarded wards.
National Freedom Party’s secretary-general, Canaan Mdletshe, said the party was satisfied with the voter turnout which indicated they could be poised to retain both wards.
“As the organisation, we are excited about the voter turnout, starting from the special votes on Tuesday. It was evidently clear that voters had been waiting patiently for the day of the elections. Based on the preliminary results from our party agents, the NFP is moving for a total clean sweep. It was humbling to see people showing such a huge interest in a by-election.
“We are expecting to keep ward 17 and perhaps clinch ward 20, which we had lost by a close margin previously. The NFP is poised to take over Nongoma and deliver services. The future is bright for the residents of Nongoma and Zululand as winning the two wards would automatically affect the Zululand District Municipality. We are grateful to the electorates, irrespective of the final results,” said Mdletshe.
ANC provincial spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said there was no certainty in terms of the outcome in other wards, but “reasonable confidence exists in the case of eThekwini”.
“eThekwini is certain, we are confident of a victory. We were just taken aback by the EFF’s behaviour at Ukhahlamba, which was quickly dealt with by law enforcement. I would also not be certain of a victory in other wards, because we are fighting tooth and nail against strong opposition,” said Ntombela.
KwaZulu-Natal Electoral Commission of SA’s Thabani Ngwira, said despite the slow start in some polling stations, the elections were successful and without incident.
“The IEC expected 28 385 voters to turn out at voting stations to put their mark. There was a slow start, but everything went smoothly without incidents reported,” said Ngwira.