Rochelle de Kock
THE ANC painted Nelson Mandela Bay yellow yesterday as members erupted in victory songs, celebrating the party’s 51.91% win in its historic stronghold. Weeks of rigorous campaigning also paid off for DA leader Helen Zille, whose party gained 13.5% to stand at 40.2%. COPE scored a mere 4.95%.
The DA’s penetration of the Bay will be a wake-up call for the ANC, which lost nine wards – including a section of Zwide township – to the opposition. The DA shed ward 41, which has dramatically increased in population in the last three years. The ANC share of the vote dropped 15 percentage points compared to the 2006 municipal elections, when it won 66.5%
An early morning e-mail from Bay municipal spokesperson Roland Williams prematurely declared the ANC’s victory at 11am. He invited the media to attend celebrations at the City Hall at 11.30am.
Celebrations were on and off as results from the counting station at the NMB Stadium were tip-toeing around the 50% mark. Party leaders and ward candidates in the metro stayed glued to their TV screens, the IEC website and the IEC counting centre as the situation changed as each ward result came in.
Early-morning results saw the DA in the lead with 47%, trailed by the ANC with 44%. The picture soon changed, putting the ANC in the lead with 47.81% and the DA on 44.98%.
The delay in the final announcement of results was becauseballot papers at three voting stations had to be recounted due to concerns about the result slips.
Sighing with relief at about 6pm, ANC regional secretary Zandisile Qupe said it was time to focus on strengthening the organisation as the party took a big knock in these elections. “To all the wards we’ve lost, we want the people to know services are not lost to them; they will benefit from what the ANC stands for … what the ANC provides.
“Right now we are going to convene celebrations for our volunteers and our communities out there at St George’s on Sunday to say thanks for the support. We are also going to show them we are serious about the issues they have raised,” he said minutes before addressing a jubilant crowd at Vuyisile Mini Square.
Of the 120 seats in council, the ANC will now have 62, the DA 48 and Cope will have six, with the other four seats split among the smaller parties.
DA leader in the Bay Leon de Villiers said he was delighted with the huge growth shown by the party in the metro. “This is a win-win situation for voters as it will place greater pressure on the government to improve service delivery.”
Political analyst Joleen Steyn- Kotze, from NMMU, said the ANC’s internal problems were behind its drop in votes. “There was lots of infighting, service delivery problems and a racial form of politicking.”