Political analysts said the dramatic increase in the number of independent candidates pose a real threat to big parties. Picture: Jacques Naude African News Agency (ANA)
Political analysts said the dramatic increase in the number of independent candidates pose a real threat to big parties. Picture: Jacques Naude African News Agency (ANA)

Increase of independent candidates in eThekwini, poses threat to the big parties

By Thami Magubane Time of article published Oct 22, 2021

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DURBAN - THE number of independent candidates contesting the 2021 local government elections in the eThekwini Municipality has grown exponentially, with more than 50 candidates hoping to get a seat at the 200-member council chamber.

Political analysts said the dramatic increase in the number of independent candidates pose a real threat to big parties, as they could take away just enough votes to shift the balance of power in the council.

The danger, experts said, was not that the independents would win outright the wards they are contesting, but rather that they would siphon away enough votes from one party, which could allow another party to seize the ward.

A list of candidates on the Electoral Commission of SA website shows that there are 58 independent candidates that will be contesting in eThekwini in the local government elections.

Outside of the large number of already established parties, there have been several new entrants, and the ballot paper would have a minimum of 15 other parties that are either new or have been flying under the radar, also contesting.

IEC spokesperson in KwaZulu-Natal ,Thabani Ngwira said they had seen a dramatic increase in the number of independents that would contest the elections.

He said since 2011, the IEC had noticed that the number of new party entrants and independents candidates have been increasing with every election.

In the last local government election, at least four independent candidates managed to secure a seat in eThekwini. One of those seats was in the Inchanga area where there was a rift between the ANC and the SACP, which led to both organisations fielding a candidate.

The SACP won the ward. The run up to this win and the aftermath was characterised by violence in the area that left several people dead.

Political analysts said results of previous local government elections show that independents do not have a good track record when it comes to winning elections.

However, they argued that their increasing numbers, combined with anger from communities because of poor service delivery, could prove a headache for bigger parties.

Political analyst Daniel Silke said voters were angry and frustrated with the bigger parties, which was making the independents and smaller parties more attractive.

“There are also individuals who want employment and see the potential in registering themselves as independent candidates, being a councillor is a reasonably well paying job,'' he said, adding that independent candidates could shift the balance of power in the council and take away attention from the big parties.

For instance, said Silke, if an independent had belonged to a big party as a councillor and was sidelined by that party in these elections, that independent could campaign in their ward with their supporters and take attention away from the big party.

“In eThekwini there will be many independent contesting as well as smaller parties, the independent candidates might not take the ward, but they could cause the votes that would have belonged to the big parties to be sprinkled across all these small parties and that might result in the big party actually losing that ward,” he said.

Another analyst Thabani Khumalo agreed that the presence of independent candidates was a threat to more established parties.

“If a person moves away from a big party and they stand as an independent, that person takes away voters from the big party. The independents and the big parties are all fishing from the same pound which will negatively affect the big parties.

“In my ward, the current candidate is an independent who was sidelined by a big party. From what I have seen, he is popular in the community and is running a successful campaign, even if he does not win the ward, he will still take away a lot of votes from the big parties,” he said.

THE MERCURY

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