By Geoff Embling, Ward Four DA councillor
In the November 2021 Municipal Election, Ward 4 had 5274 registered voters, the highest number per ward in Makana, doubling the number of registered voters in some wards. 2383 Ward 4 residents voted on election day, a 45.18% turnout, meaning that 54.82%, or 2891 voters, did not turn up to vote.
Ward 8 had 3033 registered voters, of which 1186 voted on election day, a lacklustre 39.10% turnout. 60.90%, or 1847 voters from Ward 8, did not bother to vote. Considering that the quota of votes for a proportional representative seat on the Manana Council is 1376 votes, the lack of voter turnout in these two wards potentially cost the opposition parties 3.45 extra seats on the council.
The vast majority of Ward 4 and 8 residents vote for opposition parties. The percentage of ANC votes in Ward 4 was 8.10%, and in Ward 8 it was 12.62%. Averaging these figures and considering that Ward 4 has more registered voters than Ward 8 brings the combined ANC percentage to below 10%.
Taking 10% off the 3.45 potential extra seats from wards 4 and 8 still gives 3.1 extra seats to opposition parties. Consider, now, that the combined opposition in council currently has 13 seats, and the ANC has 14 seats. Therefore, if just one-third of registered residents from wards 4 and 8, who did not vote, had made the effort to go to the election polls, the opposition could have had an extra seat, which would have turned the tables and brought the ANC under 50%.
A combined opposition majority in the council could have voted together to change the budget and spend a substantial amount more on infrastructure and maintenance; there could have been a different mayor and speaker, the opposition could have demanded information on missing pump sets, voted for the suspension of senior management which did not perform, encouraged oversight visits to facilities, and set up a joint operations committee with local engineers who have expertise.
It is sad to say that there are some people in town who went away on holiday for Election Day, which was a public holiday, and yet they are vocal about service delivery. If more registered residents in Wards 4 and 8 had voted, Makana municipality could have been a different city to live in by now; but the next local election is three and a half years away.