Picture: Phill Magakoe/African News Agency (ANA) Archives

Durban - The African National Congress grabbed wards off both the Democratic Alliance and Inkatha Freedom Party in a series of by-elections held on Wednesday, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said.

The victories are significant as they could signal a change in leadership for the respective councils or a reconfiguration of coalition partners.

"During the by-elections contested ... in the Gauteng, Kwazulu-Natal, Limpopo, North West and Western Cape provinces, the African National Congress retained five seats and won three seats and the Democratic Alliance retained one seat it won in the 2016 Municipal Elections," the IEC said.

One of the biggest upsets was in northern KwaZulu-Natal’s rural Mtubatuba municipality against a resurgent IFP, which has enjoyed a series of by-election victories since a strong showing in 2016 local government elections. 

The IEC said the ANC’s Erick Ntuli won Ward 12 in Mtubatuba with 56.02 percent of the votes cast, compared to 58.02 percent that the IFP received in 2016 municipal elections. Voter turnout was at 64.27 percent.

In Matzikama, the ANC’s Mathilda Bains won Ward 6 from the DA with 49.54 percent of the votes. Voter turnout was 50.73 percent.

The ANC also scored wins in the Western Cape province's Cederberg and Matzikama municipalities, which are traditional DA strongholds but where the party has been affected by internal squabbles.

Paulus Strauss took Ward 4 in Cederberg from the DA with 49.19 percent of the votes with a voter turnout of 59.19 percent.

The ANC in KwaZulu-Natal said it was pleased with its performance. The party also retained a seat in the Alfred Duma municipality.

“Given the fact that non-participatory governance in IFP controlled municipalities is the order of the day, the ANC councillor in Ward 12 will promote participatory democracy,” it said in a statement.

It said it was committed to making local government work and would monitor the performance of ANC-controlled municipalities and those few controlled by the IFP "to ensure that service delivery is strengthened”. 

Western Cape ANC provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs told the Cape Times newspaper that the party's wins in the province were due to work of volunteers and staff.

 African News Agency (ANA)