‘Super Wednesday’ by-elections will be an indicator for 2021, say KZN political parties

It is all systems go for by-elections in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday.
It is all systems go for by-elections in KwaZulu-Natal on Wednesday.

Political parties vying for control of the 12 wards up for grabs across nine municipalities in KwaZulu-Natal’s by-elections on Wednesday believe their electoral performance will be an indication of things to come in next year’s local government elections.

The IFP, which is contesting all 12 wards, has taken it up a notch. Party leader Velenkosini Hlabisa said the party will build on its electoral performance to reclaim its official opposition status which it lost to the DA four years ago.

“We are going to reclaim a lot of municipalities which we could not take back in 2016, and we will be making clear victories in municipalities that are currently hung because there are so many challenges at hung municipalities in terms of stability and ensuring effective service delivery,” said Hlabisa.

He is also positive the IFP will comfortably retain its wards in Wednesday’s by-elections, and said the party is aiming to gain more from the ANC and DA. 

“We are positive we will retain the wards we governed. We have also campaigned hard in those currently under the ANC, including Nkandla, Mvoti, eThekwini and Msunduzi,” said Hlabisa.

The IFP controls wards in Phongolo, Mtubatuba, Nquthu and Mthonjaneni that are due for by-elections. 

Hlabisa said he was encouraged during the campaign to see communities eager to vote. 

He revealed that the IFP plans to make inroads in some of KwaZulu-Natal's economic hubs in 2021 to increase its electoral share as many people live in urban areas. 

“In Six economic hubs - Durban, Port Shepstone, Pietermaritzburg, Newcastle, Ladysmith and Umhlathuze - we are devising a strategy to make inroads because that is where the bulk of our people live,” he said.

The DA’s Zwakele Mncwango said his party was only contesting where it stood a chance to win, namely eThekwini, Msunduzi and South Coast. He said campaigning had been made difficult by the Covid-19 pandemic.

“We have done what we can under the circumstances. I don’t think there is any party that can say they had a normal campaign because of the pandemic. We used different mechanisms. We have been calling voters and we avoided face-to-face interactions,” said Mncwango. 

He said the by-elections will give the DA an indication of where they stand with voters. 

“The campaign was not strong. There were no robust debates. I believe this by-election will somehow show the true reflection of where each party is in the minds of voters.”

The ANC, which is contesting all 12 wards, said the primary task is to retain the wards they have, and the secondary is to advance in getting other words in preparation for 2021.

“The elections are across the province so they will give us a dynamic of the urban vote and township and rural votes to assist us in our analysis and preparation for next year,” provincial spokesperson Nhlakanipho Ntombela said.

He said voting trends in Wednesday’s by-elections will tell the party where its stands with voters. 

The Electoral Commission (IEC)  on Monday said it was confident the by-elections will be free, fair and safe as long as all stakeholders conform to the strict safety measures and health protocols put in place at voting stations.

These include social distancing, mandatory wearing of masks and application of hand sanitisers.

The IEC said "Super Wednesday" would see 95 by-elections taking place. Of these, 20 are in the Northern Cape across eight municipalities, 19 are in the Eastern Cape across 13 municipalities, 14 are in Gauteng across six municipalities, 12 are in KwaZulu-Natal across nine municipalities, 11 are in the Western Cape across five municipalities, six are in the North West across four municipalities, five are in Mpumalanga across three municipalities, four are in Limpopo across four municipalities, and four are in the Free State across three municipalities



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