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Fierce fight ahead

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All seven wards were previously ANC strongholds

File photo: African News Agency (ANA)

THERE will be fierce competition to win the upcoming by-elections in the nine vacant wards in the Sol Plaatje municipal district, where an assortment of political parties and independent candidates have signed up for the challenge.

Provincial Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) manager Elkin Topkin said they would be able to confirm the number of registered candidates today.

The closing date for the registration of candidates expired yesterday, with the ANC, DA, EFF and seven independent candidates indicating that they had registered before the 5pm deadline.

One candidate from the faith-based organisation African Transformation Movement (ATM), Gaolaolwe Patrick Mokolopi, will be contesting Ward 12.

Former ANC spin doctor Mzwandile Jimmy Manyi, the former owner of the now defunct ANN7 news channel and the New Age newspaper, is a national executive committee (NEC) member heading policy and strategy at ATM.

By-elections will be held on February 13 in Ward 9 (Ipopeng), Ward 11 (Arena and Dingaan hostels), Ward 12 (White City), Ward 13 (Santa and Witdam), Ward 16 (Snake Park, Transit Camp and Promised Land), Ward 19 (Newtown, Crutze Square and Zingiza Saka) and Ward 32 (Phutanang and Platfontein).

All seven wards were previously ANC strongholds. The vacancies were created when the ANC ward councillors were expelled last year after they were found guilty of conspiring with opposition parties in voting the former Sol Plaatje executive mayor, Mangaliso Matika, out of office.

The expelled ANC councillors – Gladys Monyamane (for Ward 9), Yvonne Qonga (Ward 11), Magdeline Mokgaladi (Ward 12), Rachel Wapad (Ward 13), Boitumelo Stout (Ward 16), Pius Tshite (Ward 19) – will be contesting their respective wards but this time as independent candidates.

Former ANC member Motsamai Nelson Molale will also be standing as an independent councillor for Ward 32, which was previously represented by Mmaserame Lekhatlanya.

Molale said that he had ended his membership with the ANC after the 2017 provincial conference that was held in Colesberg.

“I was the first candidate to register as an independent candidate to contest the by-elections on January 11. The community of Ward 32 said that they are behind me 100 percent. They said that the ANC ward candidate was imposed on them without their input.”

He indicated that he had immense experience, having served for seven years as the branch secretary of the ward committees while he was still an ANC member.

“I am familiar with the issues facing the community and will dedicate all my time to be their ward councillor. I am here to remind the community that democracy is still alive, as long as we all stand together. Everyone is fed up with the abuse and corruption – of which I have had first-hand experience.”

Stout, who is contesting Ward 16, said that he was mobilising the community “around the clock”.

“There is no rest for me. The ANC is campaigning in my ward but they are using scare tactics. The independent councillors are ready to win the by-elections.”

Cope national chairperson Pakes Dikgetsi said that the party would not be contesting the by-elections. “We have taken a political position to support the expelled ANC councillors, who will be standing as independent candidates.

“They refused to bow down to pressure from the leadership and stuck by their oath of office to serve the community. These candidates took a stand for what is right and for the principles of the Constitution, starting from the time when Sol Plaatje Municipality wanted to implement the R260 basic electricity surcharge. This spilled over to the shutdowns and their consequent expulsion from the ANC.”

EFF provincial spokesperson Obakeng Lechuti was confident that his party would win four out of the seven vacant wards.

“The names of all our candidates were submitted to the IEC by 3pm (yesterday).”

ANC provincial spokesperson Naledi Gaosekwe said their list of candidates for all seven wards was finalised after branch general meetings and community meetings were held.

“The names were submitted before the 5pm deadline (yesterday).”