Helen Zille is trying to spin the Democratic Alliance’s dismal Super Wednesday by-election results. No “consolidating” by the DA will work.
Nationally, the DA lost 9 seats and gained 2, so down 7. Against expectations, the ANC lost 2 and gained 6, so up 4.
Zille’s situation worsens. In the Western Cape, the only province she rules, we’re witnessing the decline of her empire. For example, she’ll likely take back control of Knysna but plummeted 25% in its richest ward.
Helen Zille blamed biased Media with, “We have to face the fact that we have an extremely hostile media environment, where the DA is judged by a totally different set of standards from other parties.” That’s ironic since most Media are biased for the DA, deliberately failing to report on their corruption.
Propaganda is one of the worst aspects of race politics. Indirectly, on Facebook, Zille played the race card saying that “the splintering of the ‘non-racial moderate centre’ continues, with small ethnic parties growing.” Her use of “right-wing'” as a description for the VF+ seemed to be an add-on to her narrative rather than a statement of fact.
Zille was hypocritical since she, a white woman, controls the DA in a country wherein we are only 7.9% of the population. Her immediate subordinate is white Leader John Steenhuisen. In the Western Cape, the seat of their power, the Premier is white Alan Winde.
Zille is pretending that the DA isn’t part of the problem. If a DA member, for example, pointed out that black Refiloe Nt’sekhe is a DA Federal Executive member, most would respond with, “Who?” Tokenism can be racism. And when Nt’sekhe and her non-white colleagues don’t fight internal corruption, their big salaries become bribes explaining their invisibility to the general Public.
In 2014, the DA’s share of the national vote was 22.23%. In 2019, that dropped to 20.77%. The fact that it didn’t grow was interpreted as the DA never becoming a viable option to replace the ANC. The party entered a funding crisis which led to retrenchments and scandal. Could new funders explain their shift in direction?
Recent criticism of the DA becoming a minority party will not be quelled by Zille’s Facebook wordsmithing. The main takeaway fact is that the DA bombed yesterday.
QUESTIONS BEFORE THE BY-ELECTIONS
Media labelled 11 November as Super Wednesday. It hosted the most by-elections in South Africa’s history. 55 municipalities witnessed the fights for 107 councillor seats. With the 2021 Local Government Elections only one year away, local politics are already disruptive with most municipalities having more than one prize on offer.
Would the ANC’s handling of covid-19 make it suffer? Would biased voters be stronger than the ANC’s unwillingness to tackle corruption in its highest ranks? Do South African’s consider President Cyril Ramaphosa to be in charge? Or would local matters such as potholes, broken sewerage pipes, lack of clean water, long queues at hospitals and growing crime affect the vote more?
The DA’s internal power dynamics and consequent marketing strategy created confusion. Would black and coloured voters rebel against Helen Zille’s totalitarian control of what is now considered by some to be a white party? In smaller towns such as Knysna and Oudtshoorn, the biggest concern for whites is the DA’s refusal to address its own corruption, instead repeatedly promoting those implicated. Supporters feel betrayed by their party that used to advertise itself as transparent, anti-corruption and good governance, three values that have since become extinct.
In general, would South Africans lose faith and not vote, or switch votes to smaller parties?
The by-election results found the ANC strong, the VF+ one step up, and the DA declined.
- The shock for the ANC was overwhelming losing another ward in Nkandla to the IFP (61%). Nkandla is home to ex-ANC President Jacob Zuma, and symbolic of the corruption that has South Africa in its teeth.
- The DA won wards in Mathjabeng (OFS) and the Walter Sisulu Municipality (EC). The DA lost wards in Gauteng to ANC, Al-Jamaah, and Patriotic Alliance.
- In the Western Cape, the DA lost the ward of Pacaltsdorp in George to the GOOD Party. The GOOD Party came within 100 votes of the DA in other by-elections, giving them an invitation to 2021.
- In 2019, the VF+ took voters from the DA in the North-West Province, winning 2 wards. The VF+ has now added another 1.
- The EFF increased its percentages but won nothing. It’s too easy being opposition when you’ve got no track record to be criticised.
“A Pyrrhic victory is a victory that inflicts such a devastating toll on the victor that it is tantamount to defeat. Winning a Pyrrhic victory takes a heavy toll that negates any true sense of achievement or damages long-term progress.” – Wikipedia.
In Knysna, the DA secured wards 9 and 10, home to the richest and location of most businesses. It is expected that they’ll form a coalition with the ACDP. If so, the DA will regain control of the town after losing it last year. Councillor Michelle Wasserman, unpopular locally but the favourite of Premier Alan Winde, will probably become Mayor. The town will be controlled from Cape Town, as it was 2011-2019.
But Knysna is prime example of the DA’s degradation when looking at the figures:
In Ward 9, an independent garnered 23%. Unsurprisingly, Mark Willemse used to be the DA’s Mayor but they kicked him out for reporting corruption.
In Ward 10, a local orientated party, local orientated KIM, won 22% and the VF+ 10%.
In December 2019, for the Ward 11 by-election, the “DA dropped 2% whilst COPE’s previous 27% was gobbled up by the ANC and recent newcomers PBI.”
Two months earlier, in the Ward 5 election, I wrote: “The Democratic Alliance (DA) has swallowed a bitter election pill in an important Knysna by-election. They lost HALF THEIR VOTERS despite campaigning by Premier Alan Winde, DA Federal Finance Chair Dion George and Shadow Minister for Police Dianne Kohler-Barnard. It’s a victory signalling death in the 2021 Local Elections. And appropriate considering that all those big weights have failed to act on the DA corruption I reported to them.”
Knysna has 11 wards and 11 councillors for them. The remaining 10 seats are made up of proportional votes. That’s important considering how divisive and toxic local politics are. The DA doesn’t rule outright. In 2021 it will need more than the subservient ACDP to maintain power.
If, for example, the Independent and KIM combine, they’ll win a seat in 2021. Alternatively, they can run in more wards, accumulating fractions and possibly gaining 2 seats. However, it is likely that the GOOD Party will be in play by then. So an alternative scenario is GOOD and KIM winning one each. Those 2 seats would likely be enough to decide who’s in charge and put themselves on the Mayoral Committee (MAYCO).
That scenario will play out in other towns. On Twitter, Dawie Schultz summed up the Western Cape result as “total DA disaster”.
Zille is clever so she will be scared. The latest session of the DA’s crisis committee may never end. Hopefully, she’ll stop using the excuse that the DA are busy “consolidating”.