TRIUMPHANT: Former Ward 5 (Bathurst) councillor Andile Marasi (left), who resigned, passed the baton to newly elected councillor Mthuthuzeli "Speedo” Msimang last week Picture: ROB KNOWLES
New ANC councillor Mthuthuzeli "Speedo” Msimang received 82.87% of the vote, while the DA's Noluthando "Teddy” Donile received 17%.
In last year's elections, the ANC received 88% to the DA's 11%.
Former councillor Andile Marasi resigned when he had to choose between his teaching job and council seat, but he was there to support Msimang on the day of the election.
Seven by-elections were held around South Africa last Wednesday – three in the Eastern Cape, two in the Western Cape and one each in Gauteng and Mpumalanga. In each of them the incumbent party held its seat, with the DA winning both contests in the Western Cape and one in Sundays River Valley.
Although by-elections generally have lower voter turnout than municipal elections, the Bathurst by-election boasted the highest turnout (61.66%) of all the by-elections last week.
It was a surprising turnaround from the low turnout on the morning of the poll, when there was a just a trickle of supporters of both parties at the polling stations in Nolukhanyo and Freestone.
DA canvassers hoped for a more significant increase in support and the more optimistic among them suggested the candidates were "neck and neck” by Wednesday afternoon.
But all that changed when ANC supporters showed out en masse at the polls in the evening. The polls closed at 9pm.