Tensions ran high in the town of George in the Western Cape on Wednesday, 19 July, as residents of three wards went to the polls to decide who would be the next ward councillors.
In Ward 20, which covers the Borchard suburb, Maxine Jantjes (28) spoke to Daily Maverick After I voted at the polling station at Heidal Elementary School.
“Maybe my vote can make a big difference,” she said when asked why she wanted to vote.
She said she longed for a counselor who could work with the community and deal with their grievances.
“Even if you have a problem, they can be there to fix it, and he should be able to stand up for us,” she said.
The by-election was held after the resignation of three members of the House of Representatives from the Jaid party in April. Two of the former counselors joined the DA, while the third counsel joined Good. All three stood to win back the districts they won in the 2021 municipal election. Two of the candidates ran for DA, while the other stood for Good again.
But the mood in the three wards was tense. In the offices of political parties, party members put forward suggestions about how many voters stopped at each office and how many people actually voted during the day.
at one point, Daily Maverick They were asked to move outside a school serving as a polling station, as voting officials thought members of political parties might assume we were trying to get votes rather than reporting on a by-election.
Campaigning was tense in the run-up to the by-election after Good alleged that his political rival, the DA, had committed voter fraud.
Gide approached the Electoral Tribunal to postpone the by-election after claiming, on one occasion, that 188 people had registered at one address, even though there were only two people at home.
Read more at The Daily Maverick: Good Party accuses the DA of voter fraud and abuse of resources in a hotly contested George by-election
On Wednesday, the DA said the Independent Electoral Commission rejected Good’s allegations of voter fraud, but Good said it would take legal advice on ch.
While court proceedings continued, political parties converged on George across the three wards. The ANC, National Alliance Party (PA), Plaaslike Besorgde Inwinners (PBI), EFF and African Restoration Alliance (ARA) all joined Good and the DA on the ballot papers.
As it rained sporadically throughout the day, music blared from cars and bakeries as political parties scrambled for voters’ attention. In many party tents, children were fed. In one case, children were turned away by adults after they attempted to climb into the back of a moving taxi carrying EFF supporters.
Many of the cars draped in the colors of political parties have disembarked the elderly and the physically challenged. While some polling stations were quiet, others were busy.
At several points in the day, tension set in at polling stations as supporters tried to shove potential voters to their tables. Some residents were afraid to speak officially to daily maverick, But he claimed that it was the infighting between the political parties that caused the enmity between friends and families who support different candidates.
There is no clinic in Borcherds, so seniors often had to walk to the nearby suburb of Conville to access healthcare services, said Darryl Cowers, a PBI candidate for Ward 20 (Borcherds) and a former rugby player.
He said, “This means if you go to the clinic at 6.30 in the morning, you will be out at 4 in the evening.”
He noted that two of the candidates—Rosa Law (a current Relative Assemblywoman for Good) and Neville Law (the Democratic Party candidate who was a former advisor in the Good wing before he defected)—were unable to make a difference while under the same party banner.
“You have to ask yourself a question – are they able to help people because they haven’t been able to do so in the past or are they interested in a salary?”
During the campaign, the fights between the two major parties caused conflict in the community, Kores said.
“The kindest thing at heart is goodness and DA has come along and families are breaking up. They are breaking up friendships because people who stand up for good and for DA are angry at each other.”
“They can’t stand each other. Although we have had difficulties at Borcherds, we have always been a unit. Now, there are many wounds that need to heal after this voting process because we need each other. In Borcherds, there are still people who borrow a little sugar and salt from each other.”
John Yoko, ANC candidate, told Amber 20 Daily Maverick A similar tale of the two parties caused a quarrel between the families. He said other problems in the ward include crime and the lack of dignity it carries.
“Old people are raped,” he said, “and young people lose themselves in drug use.”
If elected as a councilor, Yoko said, the first thing he would want to do is call the community into a meeting to find out their immediate priorities.
“If the residential community says, this is my number one priority. Or work, but with the community.”
He said whoever won the by-election should focus on the big issues, which he said were unemployment and job creation.
said Cristo Alexandre, the PA candidate Daily Maverick that because of his role as pastor, he felt he could make a difference in Amber. He said the conflict between the good and the DA affected service delivery.
He added, “It’s not that there is service-providing in the first place. We got crumbs at Borchered.”
Alexander said that unemployment needs to be addressed first, and then drug use.
He said, “If young people have a job, they get off the streets.”
Good candidate Rosa Lu said Daily Maverick The former counselor “knew what he was doing” while plotting his defection to the DA, which she claimed affected the delivery of the service. Amber is getting attention now because of the by-election, she said, “but tomorrow they’ll forget.”
She wanted to focus on the suite and providing the service.
“The person who worked here, who was supposed to work here, rides into the DA’s stash and tells people that Good didn’t do their job and didn’t resource him,” she said.
Lu added that if she is elected as a member of the council, she will knock on the doors of the municipality to reform service delivery.
Incumbent Louw, now campaigning under the DA banner, described Borcherds as a place that “has a lot of potential to develop with the right party up front, then we can make sure we can bring Borcherds to a place where we can see we rise”.
With positive contributions from all stakeholders, Lu said, there can be “real change” in society.
When asked about the campaign sowing division in society, Low said: “I think that has to do with the politics of the time.
“I don’t think society is divided; it has to do with mainstream politics.”
He identified unemployment, poverty and housing as the ward’s biggest problems.
Borkhreds resident Lina Hector, 56, said: Daily Maverick The person who wins the by-election in her ward must look to safety.
“I would like them to look at gangs, security and underage children running around in the streets. They are in the streets.”
said Hector Daily Maverick It also wants political parties to “provide better conditions for people in informal settlements where water is running and people are sick”.
When asked about the new councilman’s immediate priority, Hector says, “I would say he or she should look at those in the squatter settlements because it’s cold, it’s raining, and their houses are flooded. He or she needs to look at them first.”
In the other two wards, New Dawn Park and Pacaltsdorp, tensions were also running high, but music was blaring from loudspeakers and cars. At one polling station, cars and taxis blocked the road as parties tried to lure voters into the chapel.
People in party colors invited people to come to their offices and check the status of their votes. Some party members, mostly young men, were telling people to vote for them while cars were blasting music from every corner of the street.
The Independent Electoral Commission is expected to release Thursday morning the final results of the by-elections, which are taking place not only in George but in other parts of the country. DM