2011 Local Government Elections

South African local government elections took place on the Wednesday 18th May this year. I wonder how much interest the youth showed seeing all of them were born into democracy and they only read about our past.

Although the ANC won with over 60% overall, it was with surprise that the DA took some of the municipalities that were expected to go to the ruling party.

The ANC had 1.8 million votes in Gauteng, South Africa’s economic hub, by midday on Thursday, with the DA on 950 801. The ANC had 61.99% of the vote, compared to the DA’s 31.82%. The Congress of the People had 1.13% (33 854 votes). Total voter turnout stood at 1.3 million, with 5.5 million voters registered.

The Democratic Alliance garnered 59.94% of votes in the Western Cape compared to the ANC’s 30.04%, according to votes counted by noon on Thursday. The DA received about 1.4 million votes and the ANC 686 587. The embattled Congress of the People continued to feature on the results board, obtaining 2.37% or 54 186 votes. Total voter turnout so far stood at 877 862 in the province with some 2.7 million registered voters.

The DA was looking forward to results from major metropolitan areas around the country, its leader, Helen Zille, said at the IEC’s results centre in Pretoria on Thursday.”So far it’s been great,” Zille told reporters. “We are looking forward to the metros.” She said the tightly-fought Midvaal area, where the DA had won 60.71% of the vote and the ANC 37.17%, showed “an increased maturity” in votes.

Midvaal had been the only municipality held by the DA in Gauteng. The ANC has furiously campaigned to win it from the DA. The DA was claiming nine of the 14 seats in the council, said DA strategist Ryan Coetzee. Zille said the election had helped the DA “break through race being the primary issue” of elections in South Africa. She was confident that the party would win 20% of the national vote. She congratulated the Independent Electoral Commission on a sterling job.

The ANC was blazing ahead in the Free State’s Moqhaka municipality, where it had built unenclosed toilets, according to election results in by 11.30am on Thursday. The party had 32 724 votes (61.43%) while the DA – also guilty of constructing open-air loos in Cape Town – followed with 14 404 votes (27.04%). According to results so far, of the 81 617 registered voters in the municipality, 16 356 had turned up to vote. The Congress of the People followed with 4 042 votes, or 7.59%. The Freedom Front Plus received 1 080 votes or 2.03% of the total votes cast in the municipality.

The unenclosed toilet saga saw much mudslinging between the ANC and the DA in the run-up to the 2011 local government election. The ANC had 52.14% of the vote in the Durban metro, followed by the DA with 26.30% by 11am on Thursday. The ANC had 82 761 votes and the DA 41 743 votes as the count continued. The Inkatha Freedom Party followed the DA, with 5.02% or 7 966 votes and the National Freedom Party, an IFP breakaway, 4.06% or 6 440 votes. In all, 1.7 million people registered to vote in the metro. A total of 158 726 valid votes had been counted.

ANC secretary general Gwede Mantashe and IFP coordinator Musa Zondi renewed old bonds of friendship at the Independent Electoral Commission results centre on Thursday. “This guy, he makes me laugh so much, Mantashe said as he and a giggling Zondi shared a joke. People nearby were taken aback at the jolly duo. “We are old political friends,” said Zondi as the pair shook hands and wished each other well in the elections. They were laughing about former Inkatha Freedom Party chairwoman Zanele kaMagwaza-Msibi, who now leads the National Freedom Party, an IFP splinter group. Zondi told Mantashe he had heard a rumour that Msibi planned to destablise the ANC. Laughing, Mantashe said the ANC had nothing to do with her and that she was “power hungry”. Showing that there was no animosity between the two parties, Mantashe then went and shook each IFP member’s hand.

The ANC had a tight grip on Tshwane by mid-morning on Thursday, with about 53% of the vote compared to the DA’s 40%. More than a million people voted in the municipality. By 10am, more than 100 000 votes had been counted. The DA was hoping for victory in the area, where it claimed to have made significant inroads in traditional ANC strongholds. The Christian Democratic Party held third place, with 0.60% of the vote.

Please note that the much anticipated coalitions eventually did not feature that much. That is with the notable exception of Durban where the IFP won through collaboration with other parties. Of course there were other coalitions but, like I say, they did not turn out to be as newsworthy as we’d expected.

Grahamstown was not to be outdone. She got her fifteen minutes of fame on the eve of the elections by appearing on national TV protesting against poor service delivery. They burnt tyres next to the BAB (Bantu Administrative Building). Protests like these are liable to litigation. That is not as bad as it sounds though.

We claim to have one of the tightest constitutions in the world. However, constantly challenging it strengthens it. If there are loopholes they get ironed out so that it doesn’t become a bug infested document lying in an office somewhere in the Union Buildings.

The outcome in the Cacadu District was not really surprising, the ANC and DA shared the spoils between them. But I hear from a very good source that COPE stood a very good chance as they are very strong in this region. However they decided to withdraw participation in this district when they failed to submit their candidates list before the cut-off date.

Let’s muse a little on this point. Most of us lived without the right to vote for a greater part of our lives. Now that we can vote we make a big issue out of going to the polls. So much that we throw toys about the state of democracy when it seems a candidate seems forced upon us. That was the point of the protest in Grahamstown – besides poor service delivery.

But, really, are we really that important on the galactic scale? While we’re worried about elections there could a major crisis in a star somewhere in the universe that we’re too primitive to know about. Staying on the global level, the elections came at a time when the world was putting pressure on Gadafi of Libya to step down. Our elections, therefore, will just be a footnote in this years news.

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