The African National Congress (ANC) has lost 10 wards and retained five in the fiercely contested by-elections in the Maluti-a-Phofung Municipality in the Free State.

The ten wards went to its former members who stood as independents.  The independent candidates were part of the 16 councillors who were expelled by the ANC for voting with the opposition in the removal of former Executive Mayor Vusi Tshabalala.

The contest for 15 wards involved 89 candidates from six political parties as well as 16 independent candidates.

The Maluti-a-Phofung municipal by-elections were concluded under a cloud of dispute. Several voters were turned away as their names did not appear on the voters’ roll despite insisting they’ve registered.

A threat of gang violence nearly derailed voting at one of the hotly-contested wards.

Earlier, the Heavenly Economic and Political Freedom Programme (HEPFP) threatened to apply for an urgent court interdict to prohibit elections from going ahead. The party decried alleged electoral fraud.

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This story has been corrected to reflect that the ten wards went to its former ANC members who stood as independents.