WITH only two weeks to go before three Nelson Mandela Bay wards return to the polls, opposition parties are stepping up their campaigns, bringing out their national leaders in an effort to secure the crucial seats which will determine whether or not the ANC keeps its majority in council.
The death of three ANC councillors in January left the ruling party with 60 seats in council compared to the opposition’s 57. This means the ruling party currently does not have the 61 votes it needs to pass decisions in the metro.
But the ANC said yesterday its volunteers were running a strong enough campaign and it was confident of retaining wards 15 in New Brighton; 26 in Zwide and 55 in Motherwell, which were left vacant when Noncedo Ngqondi, Mxolisi Gumenge, and Phumeza Lose died in January.
The by-elections will be held on March 28.
DA national leaders Helen Zille and Lindiwe Mazibuko are set to boost the party’s campaign in the Bay next week, provincial director and campaign manager Almarie Botha said yesterday.
“Nelson Mandela Bay is a strategic metropole for the DA. We have support in all three wards. Our support has grown since the municipal elections last year,” Botha said.
Meanwhile, the UDM will bring out its national leader Bantu Holomisa, UDM Youth Vanguard president Teddy Twala, UDM Women’s Organisation chair Kholo- felo Mokgawa and MPLs and MPs to campaign for the party next week, provincial chairman Mongameli Bobani said.
COPE regional chairman Mzwandile Hote said: “We have sent a request to our national leadership that our president Mosioua Lekota campaign in the area next week. We are expecting their response by Friday. These by-elections are do or die for us.”
In Ward 15, Eric Frans (ANC) will go head to head with Knight Mali (DA), Nomawethu Dzena (UDM) and Siyavuya Tokota (COPE).
Ward 26 will see Siyabulela Hodi (ANC) battle it out with Nikiwe Nyamakazi (DA), Loyiso Mnguni (UDM) and Gege Mbikanye (COPE). In ward 55, Mthunzi Madolo (ANC) will take on Thobelani Gubayo (DA), Andiswa Ndanda (UDM) and Mhlangabezi Dyantyi (COPE).
ANC regional secretary Zandisile Qupe said: “We’ve got so many volunteers. The campaign is on. The ANC will retain all the three wards.”
But two of the wards – 26 and 55 – were among the 47 ANC branches said to be unhappy with their candidates lists for municipal elections last year.
Some branch members claimed the lists were imposed on people by the ANC regional executive committee.
Hodi and Madolo were the candidates preferred by the disgruntled group last year to be elected for Wards 26 and 55 respectively.