The Democratic Alliance (DA) achieved a strong victory in the Western Cape coastal municipality of Matzikama in Wednesday's by-election, meaning the party could govern comfortably through a coalition with the Freedom Front Plus (FF Plus).
The DA won Ward 7 in Matzikama with 62% of the votes, beating the Patriotic Alliance (PA), which previously held the seat following the municipal elections in 2021.
The PA only managed 6% of support in the area.
The by-election result in the municipality means the DA, with its seven seats and the FF Plus' one seat, can govern in a stable coalition without additional support.
Elections monitoring expert Wayne Sussman said the election was significant on two fronts. He said it showed that having the right candidate on the ballot was crucial for political parties to win votes.
The 'right candidate'
The election victory also showed how crucial the support of Maskamsig, a small community in Matzikama, was for the DA.
A similar pattern was observed in the Northern Cape, where a former African National Congress (ANC) member pulled votes from the ANC, ensuring that the Economic Freedom Fighters won a ward.
In Matzikama, the DA candidate Christo Boks is a former PA councillor.
He defected to the DA after the PA pulled out of its coalition arrangement with the DA following the municipal elections.
Sussman said Boks' popularity ensured the DA won over critical areas in Matzikama.
"It is clear that if you choose the right candidate, it matters a lot. This candidate is very popular in the community. It was absolutely critical for the DA to win this seat because of the area Maskamsig, which is a poor area, where the vote went from the PA to the DA," Sussman said.
In the Nelson Mandela Bay metro in the Eastern Cape, the ANC kept hold of a ward in KwaNobuhle, with the party obtaining 69% of the vote. The Economic Freedom Fighters came in second with 17%, while ActionSA obtained 8%.
The ward victory for the ANC in the Nelson Mandela Bay metro is crucial, as the party governs the metro in a coalition.
A loss would have left it vulnerable.
Sussman said the ANC remained popular in KwaNobuhle despite the community experiencing a water crisis.
"The ANC had a convincing hold in Nelson Mandela Bay. It shows that the public in KwaNobuhle is behind the ANC. They reaffirmed their commitment to the party because it got the same results as they did in 2021. Despite the many challenges in that municipality with the water crisis, the voters in KwaNobuhle felt the ANC is still the best party to deal with their challenges.
"The ANC can fill that seat, and it will be harder to pass a motion of no confidence against the mayor, Eugene Johnson," Sussman said.