By-elections provide early verdict on Election’24 and aftermath – DA, IFP surge; MK, PA, EFF plunge

In 18 by-elections held yesterday, voters in KZN, Cape Town and Beaufort West, delivered a clear verdict on political developments of the past three weeks – giving fresh momentum to the DA and IFP; and a handing a thrashing to the MK, PA and EFF. The DA’s Ashor Sarupen, a member of Parliament and the party’s deputy campaign manager for Election’24 unpacked results with BizNews editor Alec Hogg.

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Highlights from the interview

Alec Hogg from BizNews discussed recent significant by-election results in South Africa with Ashor Sarupen of the Democratic Alliance (DA). Sarupen explained that by-elections occur when ward councillors, who are the only directly elected representatives, vacate their seats. The DA performed well, winning three wards in Beaufort West, which shifted the balance of power, giving the DA control for the first time and ending the coalition between the ANC, PA, and KGP. Sarupen noted that residents who experienced poor governance under other parties returned to the DA for its reliable service delivery.

In Cape Town, the DA achieved unprecedented victories, with some wards seeing up to 99% support for DA candidates. Sarupen attributed this to the public’s endorsement of the DA’s governance and its mature handling of national issues post-election.

KwaZulu-Natal saw a notable shift with the IFP making significant gains, winning multiple wards from the ANC and other smaller parties. Sarupen highlighted the fluidity of the voter base in KwaZulu-Natal, with many voters reevaluating their options and showing strong support for the IFP.

Sarupen concluded that these by-election results indicate a trend towards voters consolidating around major parties rather than fragmenting into smaller ones. He emphasized that the public rewards responsible governance and is moving away from parties that engage in theatrics. Additionally, Sarupen addressed the suspension of a new DA MP for past inappropriate comments, explaining the party’s disciplinary process.

Edited transcript of the interview  ___STEADY_PAYWALL___

Alec Hogg (00:01.685) Some very big by-election results that came out in South Africa yesterday, giving us an indication of the way the public feels about results of the national election and the decisions taken thereafter with the government of national unity. We’re going to be talking in a moment with Ashur Sarapan. He’s with the Democratic Alliance.

Alec Hogg (00:32.469) These were really good results for the DA and for your partner in the Government of National Unity, the IFP. Let’s start with understanding why by-elections are held. We don’t have them for national parliament where you’re a member of parliament, but indeed we do have them on a local government level. Why are they held in the first place? What sparks them?

Ashor Sarupen (01:06.752) Ward councillors are the only directly elected representatives in the country. Municipal councils have two types of councillors, ward and proportional councillors. During a local election, you’ll get two ballots if you’re in a metro, three if you’re in a district, for electing both types. Your ward councillor is directly accountable to you, even though they’re elected on a party ticket. If they die, retire, get expelled, or leave their party, they lose their seat and a by-election is triggered, allowing voters to choose a new representative.

Alec Hogg (01:52.085) Why did we have so many important by-elections yesterday?

Ashor Sarupen (02:00.910) There were interesting post-election developments. In the City of Cape Town, we had by-elections because councillors resigned for other opportunities or retired. In Beaufort West, an ANC councillor left after being accused of malfeasance, charges later dropped. In KwaZulu-Natal, ANC ward councillors left the ANC, joined MK, and contested their seats. In the general election, most of these would have won their wards as MK candidates.

Alec Hogg (03:44.917) Let’s start with Beaufort West. The DA won all three wards, two from the Patriotic Alliance, one from the ANC. What does it mean in the balance of power now?

Ashor Sarupen (04:57.678) The DA had four seats in a 13-seat council. By winning three wards, it now has a majority DA council. This is significant as it’s never been a majority DA council before. The coalition between the ANC, the PA, and the KGP will end, and the DA can now control the municipality for the first time, aiming to turn it around after many years of mismanagement and corruption.

Alec Hogg (06:01.333) Were you guys expecting this result in Beaufort West?

Ashor Sarupen (06:15.790) Yes, we were. When people experience DA governance and then see the alternative, they generally support us. In Beaufort West, we saw a surge of support for the DA and a decline in PA and ANC support, which held up in the by-elections. People want their services to work, and the DA focuses on basics like water, electricity, road maintenance, and refuse removal.

Alec Hogg (07:56.373) Let’s move back to Cape Town, where there were three by-elections. Two councillors came back with increased majorities, one with 98%, the other with 97%. That must have been surprising.

Ashor Sarupen (08:31.086) There were voting districts where we got 99% of the votes. This strong support in Cape Town is an endorsement of what we’ve done for nearly 20 years and our mature response to the national election results, aiming to steer the national government in a direction that benefits the economy and creates jobs.

Alec Hogg (10:17.429) Sounds almost like a DA party political broadcast. Let’s go to KwaZulu-Natal, where you did very well, but kudos primarily to the IFP. There was an attempted coup by MK, ANC councillors resigning and joining MK. What were the results?

Ashor Sarupen (10:47.214) In six wards, MK should have won in a landslide but did not. We saw a slight migration back to the ANC, but the IFP was the biggest winner. Voters who previously supported MK moved to the IFP. The KwaZulu-Natal vote is now up for grabs, with a large number of floating voters evaluating their options.

Alec Hogg (13:14.517) The IFP came through strongly, winning four wards from the ANC, one from the ABC, and the DA won a ward previously held by the ANC. What do these results indicate?

Ashor Sarupen (14:19.374) The voting public rewards parties behaving responsibly in the national interest and punishes those engaging in theatrics. Voters accept that South Africa is now a permanent coalition country. The trend towards fragmentation into micro parties is beginning to subside, with voters consolidating around major parties. This is evident from trends in Beaufort West and KwaZulu-Natal.

Alec Hogg (16:39.061) There’s been social media discussion around one of your new MPs and something he allegedly said when he was younger. How does the party handle such instances?

Ashor Sarupen (17:07.950) If a member violates the party’s code of conduct or constitution, a hearing is triggered with our disciplinary body, headed by Glynnis Breitenbach. The process is managed independently, and the member gets a fair hearing. The federal executive decided to suspend Mr. House pending the outcome of his disciplinary inquiry.

Alec Hogg (18:31.029) Ashur Sarapan is a member of parliament with the Democratic Alliance. I’m Alec Hogg from BizNews.com.

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