Who will rule Knysna in August 2016?
Regular rioting on the N2, a questionable tender affecting the future of a town, a drug town with no sincere effort to stop drugs, a Municipality killing transparency, arrogant politicians pissing on criticism, corrupt media, political propaganda campaigns… Knysna is clearly troubled!
Against this backdrop, the 2016 Municipal Elections will stagger in August. No matter the outcome, it isn’t looking good for the citizens of Knysna. So long as there’s the refusal by the DA and ANC to address serious issues seriously, the performances may look a little different but the circus will remain the same no matter who wins.
However, voters who refuse to see the bigger context will divide themselves into party colours, skin colours, biased colours, any colours… and be interested in who wins.
This year, there was the introduction of Ward 11 (part of Hornlee and all of Oupad), a new ward that is predominantly black and ANC. With the expectation of the ANC winning another Ward Councillor seat, and possibly a proportional representative seat too, it looked like it was impossible to know who would win the war for Knysna.
But the DA made a big move…
After the last local elections, COPE’s Elrick van Aswegen overwhelmingly voted with the ANC. Recently, the DA gained his unofficial allegiance by placing him on their Mayoral Committee, booting out a DA member in the process. Since then, COPE’s allegiance seems to be with the DA.
The only way that the ANC can win Knysna is to gain more PR seats by dropping the DA/COPE coalition’s percentage of the votes. To do so, the ANC would have to get more of their supporters to vote. Last election, only two-thirds of Knysna’s registered voters bothered to turn up but that figure was substantially lower when looking at ANC areas ranging from Bongani to Khayalethu.
But with COPE’s votes dressed in blue, the ANC is unlikely to succeed – in the 2011 elections, the DA and COPE mustered a combined 58.51%. If they can do that again, as allies, they’d gain the PR seats needed for a win.
A 2016 municipal election result could look like this:
DA – 5 Wards + 5 PR
COPE – 1 PR
ANC – 6 wards + 4 PR
COPE would be the Kingmaker, giving the DA the win and, if a backroom deal has been made, ensuring Elrick van Aswegen’s position on the Mayoral Committee. He could even become Speaker or Deputy Mayor.
In that scenario, Speaker Eleanore Bouw-Spies is likely to become Mayor. It was announced this weekend that she is the DA’s #1 candidate. For 22 months, after she crossed the floor from the ANC to the DA, I’ve publicly predicted that move.
But ICOSA is in the mix. This includes many ex-COPE members and seems likely to take more coloured votes away from the DA than the ANC. ICOSA has a strong chance of winning a PR seat but winning two could make them the Kingmaker instead of COPE.
We haven’t heard about the EFF yet. Surely they’ll contest the ANC?
Our politics seems to be more about learning how to play the Game of Thrones than it is about right and wrong. The citizens of Knysna, most in pursuit of ignorance instead of issues to align themselves to, can only lose no matter what the result is.
Troubled Knysna reminds me of a quote from Firely, the sci-fi TV series: “We’re all doomed! Who’s flying this thing!? Oh, that would be me.”