The Democratic Alliance (DA) lost one of its wards without a fighting chance in a hotly contested by-election in Cape Town.
The Patriotic Alliance (PA) took Ward 56 on Wednesday, with Cheslyn Steenberg claiming the party's first ward seat in the City of Cape Town.
Absent from the ballot was the DA, which missed the Electoral Commission of South Africa's (IEC) deadline to submit nominations last year.
In 2021, the party won the ward, comprising Kensington, Maitland and Acacia Park, with 44.5% of the vote.
The seat became vacant after the resignation of the previous councillor.
Seven political parties contested on Wednesday, including the GOOD party, African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) and Al Jama-ah.
Steenberg garnered the lion's share, with 1 321 votes, 40.7% of all ballots cast, followed by GOOD with 773 and the ACDP with 435.
Voter turnout was a dismal 20.52%.
DA leader in the Western Cape Tertuis Simmers said social media and other sources indicated that it was "clear" that their supporters are disheartened because they "had not had an opportunity to return a DA councillor. The poor 20% poll speaks volumes to this disappointment.
"However, as much as a win on a 20% poll is more like a draw, it remains a win of course. And the choice of the electorate will be respected while the DA maintains meticulous oversight of service delivery management in Ward 56."
The party "regretfully" missed the IEC candidate submission deadline, which has resulted in a federal legal commission investigation into the circumstances "surrounding this failure".
"A report is due to serve before fedex (the federal executive) soonest," Simmers said.
But PA leader Gayton McKenzie does not believe that it was an error.
"The DA has many faults, but one that they never make is not to compete in a by-election. This was deliberate," he insisted.
"They dropped from [over] 80% to [under 50%] in the last election for Ward 56. They knew they would fall even more. They got out of the ring."
They chose to rather not contest than lose to the PA. That was smart of them.
Simmers dismissed this, saying McKenzie "needs to stop peddling distorted information to our citizens and voters".
"A real, credible political party and leader focuses on the facts and all IEC election processes, as is clear from the Ward 56 IEC deadline that the DA missed, which is the only reason we could not contest," he hit back.
"The DA did not lose Ward 56 to the PA as we did not contest, yet it is on record that the PA lost their Ward 7 in Matzikama by more than 1 420 votes to the DA on 7 July 2022."
McKenzie vowed that their first City of Cape Town ward win would be the first of many that the party would take from the DA.
"This is not the last one. Coloured people have woken up to the fact that their votes are being used, taken, but nothing in their lives changes or improves.
"Hulle is duk van die DA [they are fed up with the DA]."
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