Tshidi Madia and Mxolisi Mngadi
Johannesburg – The community of Metsimaholo in the Free State has opted to place its faith in the ANC, according to by-election results released by the Electoral Commission of SA (IEC) on Friday.
Out of the 21 councillor seats that were contested, the ANC won 16 while the DA won five.
Out of the 21 Proportional Representation (PR) councillor seats that were on the line, the ANC got none. The DA got six seats, the EFF won eight while the South African Communist Party (SACP), the newcomer in the by-elections, managed to get three seats.
The African Independent Congress, the Metsimaholo Community Association, the Forum 4 Service Delivery and the Vryheidsfront Plus won one PR seat each.
The historic polls saw the SACP breaking away from its long history of supporting the ANC to contesting for state power.
The EFF also hoped to emerge as a clear victor.
However, none have won by a landslide, forcing the municipality to once again consider a coalition government.
The municipality was dissolved in July when it failed to pass budget but, before then, a coalition between the DA, civil organisation MCA, the FF Plus and the EFF lapsed.
The former mayor of the municipality Sello Hlasa, who was a member of the MCA, also crossed over to the ANC.
Voting across its 21 wards took place on Wednesday, with claims of vote rigging levelled against the ANC by its alliance partner, the SACP. Twenty-one PR positions were also contested in the polls.
SACP's deputy general secretary Solly Mapaila complained that people were being bussed into the municipality to participate in the by-elections. The ANC has called for an investigation into the claims.
The day also saw Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs Minister Des Van Rooyen chased away from a voting station.
The ANC has retained some of its wards including wards 1, 8, 9 and 10, while the DA retained some of its strongholds, which include wards 14, 15, 16, and 17.
The IEC said the objections in the municipality included some voters in one voting district in ward 1 had erroneously been provided with ballot papers from a different ward 19.
"When the matter came to the attention of the Commission on election day, the ballot boxes affected were immediately sealed and quarantined and the correct ballot was then used for the remainder of the day using different ballot boxes," IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela said in a statement.
She said at a meeting on Wednesday night, the IEC resolved that the quarantined ballot boxes should be opened in the presence of party agents and all valid ballots extracted – including all PR ballots (which were not affected as the PR ballots are uniform for the entire municipality) and correctly issued ward 1 ballots.
"The remaining incorrectly issued ballots for ward 19 – numbering about 200 – were re-quarantined and excluded from the count," she said.
Bapela said the Commission's decision was communicated to all parties at a meeting of the Municipal Party Liaison Committee on Thursday where after the quarantined ballot boxes were opened and the valid ballots extracted and counted.