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