By ROD AMNER
Independent candidates do not, as a rule, win ward elections in South Africa.
But, Vuyani Nesi did – in Makana’s Ward 14.
Nesi was the ANC councillor for Ward 14 after a by-election was held last year. But, after the process of nominating a candidate for this year’s election, Nesi said the ANC kicked him out and brought someone else in. They did not follow “the right procedure for nominating a candidate” (which is through the Branch Executive Committee).
This upset the community, and they felt he should stand as an independent.
They promised to support him. They canvassed on his behalf, and many households sacrificed to donate a minimum of R10, food, transport and other needs.
“I, therefore, say it was not about me but the will of the people. The outcome reflects that, and I thank them for their support, and I feel ecstatic about the outcomes. I am very proud of the support I observed from the whole community being united about what they believe in.”
Nesi received 40% of the ward votes. Almost all his votes (721 of 724) were secured at just one of the three voting stations in the ward – the Transrivier voting station in Alicedale.
The ANC won 49,54% of the proportional representation votes. Independent candidates are not eligible for PR votes, which may explain the extraordinarily high number of spoilt ballots in Ward 14. Over 20% of PR ballots and almost a quarter of District Council ballots were spoilt. It seems that many voters were primarily interested in getting Nesi into office – and were not keen to vote for any other political party.
Despite the victory, Nesi is worried that established political parties might want to block him from providing service delivery to his constituents. “Nevertheless, the community members won’t let me down as they have shown by casting their votes.”
“I won’t decide as to whom I will co-operate with on the new Council. I will consult with my fellow community members and leadership to grant me a mandate.”
Nesi is optimistic about the new Council. “I think it can turn things around provided that we have the same main objective to render service delivery to our respective communities for a better life – but not corruption”.
“That is the main priority when representing my community; making sure that whatever they are lacking, I bring it to the Council and account to them keeping them abreast of all the developments relating to their demands.
“Hopefully, they will support me all the way, from short to long-term priorities, referring to the yearly IDP program. The issues of unemployment, skills development and the formation of cooperatives for businesses opportunities are very critical,” he added.