Nationally, over 600 000 voters are registered for Wednesday’s polls while some 23 000 already cast their special votes on Tuesday. Over 40 political parties, fielding over 440 candidates, as well as 19 independents, will be contesting.
Polling stations are expected to open at 7 am and close at 9 tonight with results expected on Thursday afternoon. Political analyst, Ivor Sarakinsky says there is a lot at stake for political parties.
“Political parties across the board are experiencing internal turbulence and the by-elections will give an indication of how voters and citizens are responding to this internal turbulence, and secondly we want to see how COVID-19 will have an impact on turnout if we extrapolate from the provincial and national elections of last year where there was a 7% decline in turnout compared to 2014. It’s fair to say it will probably be done, the question is by how much.”
Two wards are being contested in Wednesday’s by-elections in the town of KwaBhaca in the Umzimvubu municipality in the Eastern Cape.
The seats for the two wards were held by the African National Congress (ANC) Ward 18 councillor, Andile Mgangatho and Nikiwe Zongwana of ward 25 died earlier this year.
There are four voting stations in ward 18 with a total of 4859 registered voters. This is a focus area as the small town of KwaBhaca has been beset by a number of service delivery related protests.
Some residents demand the resignation of the mayor because of allegations of the misuse of state resources. The local business community also says it is being excluded from opportunities.
By-elections in ward 2 in Chaneng near Rustenburg may alter the ANC’s stronghold in the Rustenburg Municipality.
The ANC has 43 out of the 89 seats, and works with its reliable coalition partner, the African Independent Congress (AIC) with one seat, and a local party the Bokone Civic Movement (BCM) with one seat.
The Economic Freedom Fighters has 24 seats, which is 10 more than the Democratic Alliance which is the third largest party in the council.-Additional reporting by Fundiswa Mhlekude