Local voter turn-out could be decisive in this 2021 municipal election
Kouga residents, who are eligible to vote, are urged to mark their crosses at their polling station tomorrow.
Last year around R20 000 voters did not vote and observers point out the outcome of these elections could depend on everyone or far more people voting.
After weeks of frantic electioneering, D-day has arrived in the battle for control of municipal councils across the country.
Special votes for the 2021 election drew to a close today (31 October), with the majority of voters expected to flock to the voting stations tomorrow (1 November).
There are 10 parties and five independents contesting the 2021 municipal election in Kouga, with the Democratic Alliance (DA) hoping to repeat their outright victory of 2016.
According to the latest statistics from the Independent Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), a total of 60 521 voters are registered to vote in Kouga in the 2021 municipal election.
This is an increase of 2 376 when compared to the 2016 election when 58 145 voters were registered to vote locally. However, only 66,04% – or 38 475 people – actually turned up to vote in 2016. This means almost 20 000 registered voters chose not to vote in the previous election, making voter apathy one of the big challenges faced by political parties in their scramble for support.
As is the case this year, each voter had two votes (ward and PR) that counted towards representation in the Kouga Council and one vote towards the Sarah Baartman District Council.
The DA four years ago, in 2021, secured victory and 17 seats in the Kouga Council by taking a combined 42 907 ward and PR votes out of a possible 116 290 votes (total registered voters times two). The ANC secured 12 seats with its combined 30 816 ward and PR votes. Those who did not vote, accounted for 39 340 of the total possible votes. Their votes could have made a difference.
The wards with the highest voter turn-outs in 2016 were ward 8 in Jeffreys Bay, with 81,12%, and ward 14, also in Jeffreys Bay, with 70,36%. The wards with the lowest voter turn-out in 2016 were ward 2 in Jeffreys Bay, with 56,51%, ward 10 (Ramaphosa Village), with 57,6%, and ward 4 in Humansdorp, with 57,71%.
Less than two-thirds of registered voters (64,48%) cast their vote in ward 12 (St Francis and Paradise Beach) in the previous election while ward 1 (Oyster Bay and Sea Vista) fared marginally better with a voter turn-out of 68,9%.
There are 30 seats are up for grabs in the local municipal council this year – 15 of these will be occupied by ward councilors and 15 by proportional representative (PR) councillors. There is one more PR seat than before, as announced in the Provincial Gazette of 27 August 2019 by the Eastern Cape MEC for Cooperative Governance and Traditional Affairs.
The 10 parties contesting the election in Kouga are: the African National Congress (ANC), African Transformation Movement (ATM), Compatriots of South Africa (CSA), DA, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), GOOD, Patriotic Alliance (PA), the Organic Humanity Movement (OHM), United Democratic Movement (UDM) and Vryheidsfront Plus (VF+)
Seven of these parties – the ANC, DA, EFF, GOOD, PA, OHM and VF+ – are contesting all wards while the five independent candidates will be vying for votes in wards 1, 2, 4, 9 and 14. ATM has candidates in wards 2, 14 and 15, the CSA has candidates in wards 2, 3, 4, 5, 9 and 10, and United Democratic Movement (UDM) has candidates in all except wards 1, 5 and 13.