Voters paint Atlantic Seaboard blue

Nicola Jowell at the Sea Point High School voting station last week.

By Shahied Joseph

The three wards on the Atlantic Seaboard were all won by the DA as voters went to polls last week to vote for their local government representatives.

This means that in Ward 54, which includes Bantry Bay, Camps Bay, Bakoven, Clifton, Fresnaye, Oudekraal, Robben Island, Sea Point, Signal Hill and parts of Three Anchor Bay, City Bowl resident Nicola Jowell continues as the ward councillor, having first stepped into this role in February 2019.

Close to 10 000 registered voters cast their votes in the 16 voting districts in the ward.

“I was exhausted, but I’m grateful and I’m happy that the residents gave us their support. I’m amazed that that residents remained in queues when it rained. It’s a great feeling that we will continue in this ward,” said Ms Jowell.

In Ward 54, 86.45% of the votes went to the DA with the Freedom Front Plus coming in second with 4.8%, the GOOD party in third place with 2.5%, and the ANC following with 2.4% of the vote.

Ms Jowell said homelessness, upgrading the parks, the promenade and public transport and parking were some of the priorities that she intended to focus on once she was officially installed as ward councillor.

“There are a number of proposals that we have. There are investments and upgrades planned for this financial year and we need to re-establish the to-do list with ratepayers associations in terms of what we need to re-launch and re-look at with fresh eyes,” she said.

Ms Jowell had stern criticism for the IEC, noting that some venues had not been wheelchair friendly and were short-staffed.

“The machines being on and off all day negatively impacted us and voters were turned away,” she noted.

“The manual voting processes meant longer queues, large numbers of IEC people did not arrive for work so I have empathy for those that worked for hours without taking a break.

“Some venues were too small and could not accommodate the numbers of people that arrived. The rain compounded the issues the IEC had,” Ms Jowell said.

Trevor Davids, the communications specialist for the IEC in Western Cape said there were a number of reasons for the glitches.

“There will be investigations about the problems that arose and there are many voting stations that had a variety of concerns. We don’t have the answers right now,” Mr Davids said.

“The service providers we had could not provide awnings for the temporary voting stations, so there was a contingency for that, but not for a building like in Sea Point. It was up to the Presiding Officer to use his or her discretion to allow more people into a building,” he said of the voters that crammed into the entrance of Sea Point High School’s hall when it started raining.

Francine Higham, who also lives in the City Bowl, will take over the reins as councillor of Ward 77, which includes Tamboerskloof, Vredehoek, Oranjezicht, Signal Hill, Schotschekloof, Gardens as well as the Bo-Kaap.

In this ward, the DA secured 78.45% of the votes, Good 5.36% and the ANC 4.61%.

“Once I’m sworn into office I will focus on the key priorities highlighted in my campaign, which include addressing homelessness by working in partnership with the City’s displaced persons unit, NGOs, and shelters to uplift those who are most vulnerable and help them off the streets, reducing crime by partnering and supporting neighbourhood watches, local law enforcement and the public to tackle hotspots, protecting our environment and caring for our public spaces by ensuring regular maintenance and improvements that not only make them more attractive for visitors, but also places of pride and joy for residents,” Ms Higham said.

She also raised concerns about problems encountered on voting day.

“I found the IEC staff working in Ward 77 to be very professional and committed to the integrity of the voting process, however they faced considerable challenges as a result of inefficient resources, technology failures and poor weather,” she said.

“It was also highly problematic that many people who had re-registered and updated their address details with the IEC were still not registered to the correct voting station. While the IEC did their best to adapt, not all voting stations were able to respond effectively which resulted in frustratingly long queues with many voters eventually giving up and going home not having cast their vote,” she said.

Francine Higham, the new ward councillor for ward 77.

In Ward 115, which includes, among others, Green Point, Mouille Point and parts of Three Anchor Bay, the DA won comfortably with 71.94%, Good secured 7.66% of the votes and the ANC, 4.56%.

Sea Point resident Ian McMahon retains his position as ward councillor after he won the by-election last December, taking over from Dave Bryant who stepped down.

Ian McMahon, 53, from Sea Poin

“I feel that the election resulting in a clear majority for me as ward councillor is a reflection and score-card of the 10 months that I have been a councillor in the area,” he said.

Mr McMahon said he expected to have a full month of meetings, doing as much as he can before the December recess.

“It goes without saying that the mandate given to me by the community needs to be acted on, and the challenges need to be looked at intensively with plans to meet those challenges mapped and plotted out.”