ANC Youth League president Collen Maine walks past an SACP marquee without giving his alliance partners a second look in Metsimaholo, Free State. Picture: Siviwe Feketha

Metsimaholo - The SACP’s foray into contesting electoral elections in Metsimaholo in the Free State has turned out to be a flop after the party failed to win a single ward of the 21 contested.

The ANC retained all the 16 wards that were under its control, while the DA also retained the five wards that it controlled.

But both parties have suffered a decline in voter support, while the EFF saw an increase from the votes it won last year.

With a coalition government on the cards, the ANC could still play a role in a new government through their proportional representation councillors.

The SACP’s battering came as the party said its unprecedented decision to contest was triggered by overwhelming calls from the Metsimaholo community, who were disillusioned with the ANC.

The party contested all 21 wards and erected its tents at all 59 voting stations, together with the 15 political parties that contested the by-elections.

The Metsimaholo by-elections came after its municipal council was dissolved by the provincial government which placed the municipality under administration.

In last year’s local government elections, the ANC was dislodged from the municipality through a coalition of opposition parties, as it failed to get a clear majority.

The municipality is set to continue being run through a coalition as none of the parties had an outright majority.

 The SACP’s Free State secretary Bheke Stofile said the party was not surprised by its poor showing in the election results, saying they had been on the back foot in campaigning.

“We only decided to enter the elections two weeks before, so we should be happy with what we polled,” he said.

Stofile also claimed that the votes were rigged. “We are living in a capitalist system and buying votes has become the order of the day,” he added.
On Wednesday, the ANC was accused of bussing people in from outside Metsimaholo to vote in a desperate scramble to secure victory, which the governing party has denied.

Stofile accused the Independent Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) of allowing the manipulation of the voting process.
“People were voting repeatedly as some were not marked on their thumbs after casting their votes, and in ward 1, the IEC officials used a ballot paper that belonged to ward 19.

“This reminds us of elections on the African continent where rigging is rampant, and it is a worrying trend for future elections,” he said.

The party has, however, shown considerable support in certain township voting districts where it enjoyed more support than the DA, only trailing the ANC and the EFF.

Out of the 16 wards retained by the ANC, only three were won by over 50% compared to last year’s municipal elections when it received 50% voter support in 15 wards.

Stofile said the party’s leadership was not engaging the ANC on a possible coalition, as it is set to have several party representative councillors.

“If we happen to be an important role player in the coalitions, it would be very naive to enter into negotiations without the mandate of the community that voted for us,” he pointed out. 

Meanwhile, the Free State ANC has pushed its provincial congress to Wednesday, after it was interdicted by the high court from holding it on Friday.

This was after disgruntled members approached the court, alleging irregularities in the convening of branch general meetings.

ANC provincial spokesperson Thabo Meeko said: “The provincial executive committee has re-ordered that the 29 branches mentioned in the ruling on Wednesday, observe the guideline timelines of seven days.”

Political Bureau