Hotspot voters dump ANC

2011-04-24 10:00
Sizwe sama Yende, Lucas Ledwaba, Dumisane Lubisi and Cedric Mboyisa
Delivery hotspots that have blazed in protest could become no-vote zones for the governing ANC.

City Press this week went to five towns worst affected by violent protests across three provinces, and found that comrades are boycotting, turning to the opposition or standing as independents.

This is a significant shift, as protests have never before translated into a negative effect at the polls for the ANC.

A recent report by the Human Sciences Research Council indicated that residents will not cast their votes primarily because of “political disinterest and disillusionment”.

The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has recorded a remarkable increase in the number of independent candidates standing in the local elections – 748 this year as opposed to 663 previously.

In Mpumalanga, which has been the epicentre of protests since 2009, there is visible and voluble anger at the ANC.

In Balfour, which President Jacob Zuma visited twice to calm the mood, the incumbent mayor, Malebane Tsotetsi, has made the list of councillors contesting the May 18 polls for the ANC.

As a result, the community and ANC members have endorsed independent candidates from five out of the six wards of Dipaleseng municipality to fight the elections.

This, according to community leader and ANC Youth League member Zakhele Maya, is because the list has been rigged and it “failed to consider people’s feelings and wishes”.

During their protests, residents demanded that Tsotetsi be axed because he was useless. Residents had lodged complaints with Luthuli House, Maya said, but there had been “no conclusive response”.

In Ermelo the community is pushing ahead with a call for its residents to boycott elections after four independent councillors were disqualified by the IEC.
The community says voting is not an option since the ANC’s Gert Sibande region had already decided who should become councillors.

In Diepsloot, northern Johannesburg, where protests have turned violent since 2004, residents said they had decided to cut ties with the ANC and to either vote for the DA or abstain.

This, residents said, would teach the ANC a lesson for its “arrogance and for not listening” to the needs of the people.

In Harrismith, Free State, the scene of the first service delivery protest in 2004, residents say nothing has changed and they still have no access to water, electricity or houses.

Their choices, however, are limited to the ANC or not voting at all. In Ficksburg, where Andries Tatane was killed during clashes with police last week, residents are abandoning the ANC for independent candidates.

Tatane had been planning to contest the election as an independent candidate.

The evidence from the five towns also ties in with the HSRC report, which shows that satisfaction with municipal performance has a positive effect on voting behaviour.

In the five towns visited, the opposite is true and this is affecting the ANC’s campaign. It is the first time that poor service delivery has had an impact on voter choices.

Previously, ANC support had always been resilient despite protests.