The Democratic Alliance retained the seat it won in 2016 municipal elections. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane
Cape Town - The DA was out in full force in Beaufort West this week as the party cruised to victory in the fiercely contested by-elections for Ward 7.

The Weekend Argus travelled to Beaufort West, the biggest municipality in the Central Karoo District, to cover the poll.

The results from Wednesday’s vote showed an increase in DA support, up from 46.8% in 2016 to 56.9% .

For now, the DA’s most immediate assignment is the naming of a new mayor.

As things stand, all six DA councillors who occupy seats in the Beaufort West Municipality are eligible to be nominated for the position.

October Haarvoor, Kate Alexander, Tracy Basson, Euna Wentzel, Jacob “Japie” van der Linde all have a chance of donning the mayor’s chain, as does Daleen Slabbert - the deputy mayor who is acting in the top post.

Daleen Slabbert, acting mayor of Beaufort West. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane

According to sources, Van der Linde and Slabbert are the front-runners at this point.

Whoever is nominated will replace Djorge Malooi, who resigned in February. He was named mayor after last year’s local government elections, when the DA went into a coalition with the Karoo Democratic Force to send the ANC and its mayor, Truman Prince, to the back benches of the council.

DA interim leader in the province, Bonginkosi Madikizela, said the process of electing a new mayor can follow one of two ways, either through interview processes of all six councillors or through a caucus meeting between council members who could agree on a single candidate.

“The caucus includes our coalition with the KDF but that representative cannot be nominated as the mayor because the terms of our coalition agreement state that Beaufort West has to have a DA mayor,” he said.

The municipality’s first council meeting will take place on Tuesday with high expectations that the new mayor will be announced.

Although Madikizela would not be drawn into discussing the front-runners, he confirmed to Weekend Argus that both Slabbert and Van der Linde’s names have come up.

Sixty-one-year-old Van der Linde, who is a high school principal, said he is ready and willing to serve as mayor.

The new councillor for Ward 7 in Beaufort West is Jacob Jeffrey van der Linde. Picture: Ayanda Ndamane

“I have been a mayor for the district council in 2008-2009, I was a Speaker of Beaufort West 2006-2007, and I have been in the hot seat in the district and municipal council as well as national Parliament (from 2009 until 2014), so I have all the experience.”

Acting executive mayor Slabbert said she is still to make a decision on whether she will accept the position. A trained nurse by profession, the 67-year-old mother-of-three said she entered politics six years ago during the 2011 local elections.

“The caucus which is meeting tomorrowwill decide on who they want and if my name comes up I will decide then. But I don’t think I will want the position, I like being the deputy mayor, (it is) less admin,” she said.

The DA said that the victory was the result of “a vigorous campaign” which saw many of their big-name MECs and MPLs campaigning in farming communities.

Debbie Schäfer, Donald Grant, Dan Plato, Albert Fritz and Nomafrench Mbombo made the trek to Beaufort West to canvass for votes.

The ANC, by contrast, focused its campaign mainly in the voting district closer to the CBD. They got more votes from that district but not enough overall.

DA provincial chief Madikizela told Weekend Argus that his party worked “very hard” since the resignation of Malooi, which led to a hung council.

“This is a very important municipality for the DA, we won it for the first time since 1994 last year and just when we were starting to change the situation here unfortunately the mayor resigned,” he said.

The Central Karoo District Municipality is made up of Prince Albert, Laingsburg and Beaufort West.

Khe KDF’s Noel Constable is the district mayor through his party’s coalition agreement with the DA.

Weekend Argus