ANC treasurer Zweli Mkhize says that by changing the mayor three times in quick succession, as well as the executive, the party has shown it is serious about fixing dysfunctionality in the Nelson Mandela Bay Municipality.
“We came and disbanded ANC structures, created interim structures and changed the leadership. We have changed the mayor three times. Those are interventions. We have also changed the executive committee several times.
“We actually brought in interministerial teams that link from national to local level to deal with the difficult challenges around service delivery,” he said. Mkhize said the national leadership had also held meetings with many stakeholders, including churches and businesspeople.
“The leadership we put in place is more accountable. Councillors used to fight and march against each other; we need to stop all that, and that’s a rescue plan going forward.
“The fact that they were doing a launch there was a bid to bring visibility and say to people ‘trust the ANC’.”
Mkhize said Danny Jordaan, who was deployed as mayor last year to arrest the potential slide in support and pull the administration back on track, was “doing a great job”.
But Jordaan seems more like an administrator and not a politician, according to those who have observed him during council duty, saying he does not have command of the ANC caucus.
The opposition DA started its campaign earlier than others, naming Athol Trollip, a high-profile national leader, as its candidate in April 2015, resulting in speculation that he could lose momentum.
Trollip disagrees. “This has allowed me to visit, first, all 60 wards in 60 days to present our offer, and I have been back many times since. The benefit of starting early is that we will get to every voter, one way or another,” he says.
The DA almost doubled its support in the northern areas, from 24% in 2006 to 41% in 2011 in the coloured-dominated parts of the city, including Bethelsdorp and Helenvale.
One of the tests of Jordaan’s impact since he came into office would be the extent to which he has been able to stall and reverse DA growth in the northern areas.
In ANC strongholds such as Motherwell, one of the biggest townships in South Africa, the DA has former ANC activist Nqaba Bhanga as its face. Banga led ANC students’ movements and moved up the ranks until he defected to the Congress of the People and, later, the DA.
With unemployment sitting at 47% in the metro, the DA is expected to field a significant number of young people as part of a message that it supports the creation of opportunities for young people.
City Press heard that the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) was not visible in the first weekend of voter registration, but picked up pace during the second registration weekend, as some of the party’s MPs were seen at voting stations.
EFF leader Julius Malema has been able to draw crowds, as at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University, when he packed an open field during Students’ Representative Council (SRC) election campaigns. But the interest did not translate to electoral support, as the EFF won only one SRC seat.
EFF Eastern Cape spokesperson Yoliswa Yako says the party is making strides in townships such as New Brighton and Motherwell. “Everywhere I walk, people approach me and ask how to join the EFF. People are starting to see that the alternative is not always the DA,” says Yako.
She says the party deployed its secretary-general, Godrich Gardee, during the first registration weekend and had a big gathering in the area of Kamvelihle. She says the SRC elections at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University were the first for the EFF Students’ Command and they are working hard to change “the psyche” of students.
The United Democratic Movement is well positioned to become the kingmaker, should a coalition be necessary to govern. Their by-election victory in an ANC ward last year was their biggest public relations campaign, demonstrating the party’s ability to spot an opportunity, which is credit to local leader and mayoral candidate Mongameli Bobani.
Its candidate was a former ANC councillor who had fallen out with the party.