The ANC is using legal means to try to solve a political problem after it received a drubbing at the polls in the Western Cape by-elections on Wednesday says a top political scientist. The ruling party is appealing to the Constitutional Court after it lost 24 wards in the province, many of them to the Congress of the People, following this week’s crucial by-elections.
This comes after the ANC submitted a late application to Bloemfontein’s Electoral Court on Monday in a bid to stop the by-elections, as 12 of their candidates were disqualified due to late registration, non-payment of registration fees and incomplete applications.
Despite reports of intimidatory behaviour by ANC member outside voting stations and a low voter turnout, the party faced severe losses.
Cope now holds 10 wards in the province through independent candidates, six of which are in Cape Town, while the DA won a further two wards in Cape Town and a total of seven in other municipalities.
The DA now also controls the province’s second biggest municipality, the Drakenstein Municipality, through its coalition with the Independent Democrats.
The ID walked away with a tally of five wards after contesting in 19, although the party gained none in the city.
The ANC lost 11 of the 14 wards it was able to contest.
ANC provincial spokesperson Garth Strachan said although the ANC “acknowledges and accepts” the IEC’s decision regarding the disqualification of 12 of its candidates, the party had a “right to appeal to the Constitutional Court”.
However, University of Cape Town head of political science Professor Robert Schrire said the ANC had made a “catastrophic mistake” in the province, and were now “trying to muddy the waters by seeking a legal solution to what is a political problem”.
“These are not legal matters,” said Shrire, “but because the ANC has so many more resources, they’re employing a tactic to drain the opposition of their resources, and bog down opposition leaders in what will undoubtedly be a fruitless legal pursuit.”
ID leader Patricia de Lille said the ANC needed to accept that they were at fault.
“They did not comply with the rules and regulations and they need to accept that,” said de Lille.
“Everyone must respect our constitution and no-one is above the law.”
She said the ANC needed to “let bygones be bygones” and concentrate on 2009.
“We are six months away from a general election and we are going to take them out in 2009. They must count their losses and move on.”
The DA and Cope were not available for comment on Friday.
* Reporting by Caitlin Ross.