Bat­tle lines drawn as vi­o­lence and racial ten­sions mar run-up to lo­cal elec­tions

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - NEWS - NOLOYISO MTEMBU

THE CITY of Cape Town is set to be turned into a bat­tle­ground be­tween the rul­ing DA and the main op­po­si­tion, the ANC, in lo­cal gov­ern­ment elec­tions next month.

Both par­ties claim to be con­fi­dent of a clean win, but are acutely aware of what they have to nav­i­gate – racial ten­sions, vi­o­lent protests and mi­nor­ity par­ties, which might change the land­scape al­to­gether.

Ac­cord­ing to Cen­sus 2011 data from Statis­tics South Africa, Cape Town metro is home to 3.7 mil­lion peo­ple, 42 per­cent of whom are coloured, 39 per­cent African, 16 per­cent white and 1 per­cent In­dian or Asian. Just over 20 per­cent of Cape Town res­i­dents live in in­for­mal set­tle­ments with limited ac­cess to ba­sic ser­vices such as water, san­i­ta­tion and elec­tric­ity.

In re­cent months, protests con­cern­ing hous­ing and provi- sion of san­i­ta­tion have be­come more com­mon. But as elec­tion cam­paigns in­ten­sify, protests are tak­ing a party- po­lit­i­cal turn.

Al­though not at the same level of vi­o­lence that has been seen in Pre­to­ria, Cape Town has in the past few days seen its share of vi­o­lent protests, which led to the torch­ing of two Golden Ar­row buses on the N2, and top ANC pro­vin­cial leader Andile Lili be­ing taken hostage.

An­a­lysts have warned more in­ci­dents are likely be­tween now and Au­gust 3.

“We can ex­pect some un­rest in the mu­nic­i­pal elec­tions, al­though its shape and form in the West­ern Cape might dif­fer from ex­pe­ri­ences in Gaut­eng and Lim­popo.

“Par­tic­u­larly, con­tention around ANC can­di­date lists have re­sulted in some smaller-scale protests at the pro­vin­cial head of­fice in Ob­ser­va­tory and in Khayelit­sha, where po­lice have been called in to con­trol protests,” se­nior re­searcher at the Cen­tre for the Study of Vi­o­lence and Rec­on­cil­i­a­tion, Masana Ndin­gaKanga, said.

“The de­ci­sion of some mem­bers of the Seskhona Peo­ple’s Move­ment to pledge al­le­giance to the Demo­cratic Al­liance al­ready in­di­cates that we are likely to see some in­ter­est­ing vot­ing trends in the Au­gust elec­tions, al­though at this stage it is un­clear what the fac­tions in Seskhona mean for the ANC,” she added.

Anti- ANC sen­ti­ment had also been wide­spread, but it was cer­tainly pos­si­ble that these votes would go the EFF, rather than to the DA and vot­ers favoured a more rad­i­cal ap­proach to is­sues sur­round­ing dis­tri­bu­tion.

DA deputy pro­vin­cial leader Bonginkosi Madik­izela said it was his party’s aim to re­tain the metro, and win the other six mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties at present run by op­po­si­tion par­ties in the prov­ince.

Of the prov­ince’s 30 mu­nic­i­pal­i­ties, the DA, with coali­tion part­ners in some cases, runs 23, with the ANC run­ning six, mostly via coali­tions.

The Prince Al­bert mu­nic­i­pal­ity is run by the Ka­roo Ge­meen­skap Party.

Madik­izela said in­fight­ing in other par­ties was strength­en­ing the DA and “show­ing vot­ers to choose sta­bil­ity”. He said the party was more con­cerned about smaller par­ties and in­de­pen­dent can­di­dates in the elec­tion than with the of­fi­cial op­po­si­tion.

Cur­rently, the DA is in the ma­jor­ity in the metro coun­cil, with 135 seats, fol­lowed by the ANC with 72. The ACDP and Cope are also in the run­ning, cur­rently hold­ing three seats each.

ANC pro­vin­cial spokesman Yonela Diko said its con­cern was to strengthen its “sup­port-base ar­eas such as Khayelit­sha, Gugulethu and Nyanga, while mak­ing in­roads in ar­eas such as Mitchells Plain, Athlone, Bon­te­heuwel and others”.

Gain­ing sup­port in these ar­eas would swing the metro to the ANC, he said.

The metro was crit­i­cal in the party’s at­tempts to gain con­trol of the prov­ince too, Diko added.

“We plan on mak­ing a huge dent in the metro while we work our way into the West Coast, Over­berg and Cen­tral Ka­roo.”

Ac­cord­ing to in­for­ma­tion pro­vided by Waz­imap, based on the 2011 Cen­sus, more than 96 per­cent of Cape Town res­i­dents have ac­cess to water, and 94 per­cent have ac­cess to elec­tric­ity for at least one of its ba­sic uses – ei­ther cook­ing, heat­ing or light­ing.

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