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No room at the inn as residents flock to Lichtenburg for hotly contested Ditsobotla by-election


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No room at the inn as residents flock to Lichtenburg for hotly contested Ditsobotla by-election

No room at the inn as residents flock to Lichtenburg for hotly contested Ditsobotla by-election
Photo by GovtZA

14th December 2022

By: News24Wire


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Hotels and guesthouses in Lichtenburg are full ahead of a hotly contested by-election in the Ditsobotla Local Municipality, set to take place on Wednesday.

The farming community is the administrative centre of the ailing North West municipality.


According to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), 20 wards are up for grabs, while 19 proportional representation seats will be contested. Voting at the 100 voting stations opened at 07:00.

Lichtenburg was once an industrial hub, and many residents of the Boikhutso township came from as far as the Western Cape to seek employment in the factories. However, these factories have either moved or shut their doors entirely as service delivery ground to a halt.


The latest casualty was Clover, the country's biggest cheese factory, which moved from Lichtenburg to Queensburgh in Durban last year. The company said it had no choice but to move 780km to Durban because poor service delivery in Lichtenburg severely hampered its production.

The heart of the problem was that warring factions in the ANC were so busy fighting for control of the municipality that service delivery eventually stopped altogether.

Besides a handful of small businesses and farms, two cement factories – Lafarge and AfriSam – are the only remaining large employers.

In December 2020, the council removed Tebogo Buthelezi as mayor in a vote of no confidence, and Tsholofelo Moreo was voted in. Buthelezi took his fight to the courts and was reinstated, but was removed again by the ANC caucus through another motion of no confidence. Moreo was then reinstated.

Residents who could afford to, have drilled their own boreholes and supplemented their electricity with solar panels and generators.

While the municipality supplies water tankers, residents of Boikhutso said it could take days for the trucks to reach them.

On 14 September, the Ditsobotla council was dissolved following a decision by the provincial executive committee to place the municipality under administration.

Political parties have been campaigning vigorously for power in the area as support for the ANC is waning.

Last week, Economic Freedom Fighters leader Julius Malema told residents that continuously voting for the African National Congress (ANC) was like an addiction to drugs. He said it was hard to comprehend how residents who lived in a municipality that lacked water and reliable electricity could continue voting for the ANC.

Democratic Alliance leader John Steenhuisen said after nearly three decades of corruption, Ditsobotla was now a broken municipality.

And last month, President Cyril Ramaphosa described Ditsobotla as the worst run municipality in the country, calling it a "horror show" that was hijacked by criminals. Despite this, Ramaphosa rallied residents to vote for the ANC.


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