‘I would be happy with just one vote’ Mayor Bobani unbowed by party’s big loss of support
The party of the man sitting in Nelson Mandela Bay’s most powerful and plushest seat has proved to be one of the biggest losers at the polls – mustering fewer than the number of spoilt votes in the city.
The UDM, which Nelson Mandela Bay mayor Mongameli Bobani oversees in the region, only managed to convince 3667 voters. This is fewer than more than the 4900 spoilt ballots cast in the city.
But Bobani, who claimed to have not seen any voting statistics for his party in Nelson Mandela Bay on Friday, remained steadfast when told about the dismal showing, saying one vote would have been enough for him.
“I will only be disappointed if I did not get one vote. I am happy with just one vote. It means the message spread to at least one person,” he said.The UDM went all out in Nelson Mandela Bay leading up to the 2019 national elections, even launching its manifesto in the city.
Thousands of people flocked to the launch at Port Elizabeth’s Isaac Wolfson Stadium in February but it appears this failed to bolster the party’s support in the city.
The party only collected 3,667 votes in 2019 – 2,060 fewer than in the 2014 national general election.
“We are not phased out and we are still there. We must continue to push and work hard to get more next time,” Bobani said.
“They [the voters] are saying just push harder, and we must work harder. We will increase our votes next time.”
Within days leading up to the manifesto launch, the UDM held several events in the city.
These included street meetings in Veeplaas – with UDMbranded motorbikes – and with land invaders in KwaNobuhle, where the party told residents to occupy the land.
Bobani even told Motherwell residents he was running a caring government and promised to electrify all informal settlements as mayor.
Political analyst Mcebisi Ndletyana said the decline in support for the UDM was an indication of the public’s disapproval of Bobani’s mayorship.
“It’s not surprising because the council has been mired in misconduct and abuse of power by his office.
“He has been making very reckless statements, saying they would ignore white people and focus purely on black communities,” Ndletyana said.
Ndletyana was referring to statements made by Bobani in September 2018 that they would divert 100% of the city’s budget towards Bay townships.
Bobani then made an about turn when asked about the statement, despite him being captured on video saying so.
Ndletyana said the poor expenditure on capital projects and the Hawks’ investigation into allegations of fraud and corruption had tainted the UDM’s image in the Bay.
“The misconduct overwhelmed the public appearances,” Ndletyana said.
“The UDM will be in parliament, they are guaranteed at least one seat, but if they will survive beyond this parliament is something else altogether.”
By 6pm on Friday, and with 94% of the national votes captured, the UDM had only received 0.47% of the national votes. In 2014, it received 1%. national general election and 68 in the 2016 local government elections.
On a better note, Bobani increased his vote in Ward 30, where he lives, to 566 from 217 in 2014.
While this week’s election has no bearing on the political landscape in the council, it is viewed by some as a potential indicator of voter sentiments.
And despite the dismal showing by the UDM, which now represents less than 1% of the city’s voters, Bobani said there was no reason for him to be recalled as mayor by the coalition government.
Political analyst Ongama Mtimka said the UDM had done well by becoming an activist-type party in parliament but it forgot to focus on the plight of the people in the Eastern Cape and communicate its service delivery offering.
At the party’s manifesto launch, Holomisa highlighted various legal cases the party had successfully pursued since 1999.
“But what they have actually forgotten is to remind South Africans, especially in the Eastern Cape, that they exist for the things that move the hearts and minds of people. “People don’t vote for you to go and fight legal battles.
“They vote for you because you hold a particular ideal and when that ideal was fighting corruption in Nelson Mandela Bay, the allegations of corruption against Bobani would not have aided that, in the same way that allegations of the VBS scandal would have challenged the EFF.”
Despite the allegations against Bobani, Mtimka said it was not enough to solely put the blame on him.
“The bigger issue is that the party has no offering other than taking people to court.”
He does not believe the party will grow come 2021.