SThe 2021 African local government elections were momentous. They mark the first time that the now ruling party and former liberation movement, the African National Congress (ANC), slipped below the 50% milestone of the vote.
In general, the parties maintained their positions with each other. The largest was the ANC; in second place the official opposition the Democratic Alliance (DA) followed by the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the Freedom Front Plus (FF +).
The results raise the real possibility that the ANC is looking at another defeat in the 2024 general elections. This is despite the fact that opposition parties generally perform better in municipal elections and the ANC does better during elections. general.
The poll pointed to a sharp drop in voter interest. It was the lowest percentage survey ever conducted in The democratic era of South Africa. This indicates that some citizens feel alienated from the political elite regardless of party and skeptical of the ability of any incoming municipal government to deliver.
It is ironic that ANC supporters have punished Cyril Ramaphosa given that he is the ANC leader who has done the most to purge kleptocrats from the party and government, and appoint new ethical prosecutors to bring the corrupt to trial.
But voters clearly want to see the results of this first before voting for the ANC again.
In general, South Africa will henceforth share the situation of other countries with proportional representation electoral systems – coalitions galore – as opposed to two-party systems like the UK and the US.
The fate of the Democratic Alliance
Why did the Democratic Alliance (DA) get a lower vote?
One of the reasons is that Freedom Front Plus, a conservative Afrikaner party, is winning Afrikaner voters from the DA. It may also be that ActionSA, the new party of Herman Mashaba (the former president of the Free Market Foundation and former mayor of the Johannesburg Public Prosecutor’s Office), aspired many of the black voters for the Prosecutor’s Office in Soweto, the largest black urban area in the country.
Then there are several mixed messages. For example, during the 2019 elections, DA activists polled voters on the grounds that “if you vote for the ANC, they will form a coalition with the EFF.”
However, the DA himself was simultaneously in effective coalitions with the EFF – the self-proclaimed “radical and militant”Party whose revolutionary views the DA is diametrically opposed – in the metropolises of Johannesburg and Tshwane.
Another is the gap between the district attorney’s electoral slogan that it is the party that “does thingsAnd reality. For example, the DA, who has run Cape Town since 2006, has failed in several areas. One of them is pollution control.
Wealthy Cape Town lakefront property owners around the Rietvlei-Milnerton lagoon, Zeekoeivlei and Zandvlei dare not dip a finger in those lakes due to sewage pollution. Businesses and hostels that focus on water sports are closed.
The DA Cape Town metro government has failed over the years to launch the duplication of wastewater treatment plants. Instead, he took the illiberal step of suddenly demanding that taxpayers requesting the E. coli measures are denied unless signed a confidentiality agreement. E. coli in water can cause serious illness.
However, the district attorney will celebrate that he has retained control of Midvaal Township in Gauteng Province and Kouga Township in Eastern Cape Province, and won the Umngeni Township in KwaZulu-Natal. These are your beachheads outside the Western Cape province.
Another feature of the election was that local parties in some regions maintained a resistant presence for decades against the large national parties. An example was the Advisieskantoor (Advisory Office) in the ostrich farming and tourist town of Oudtshoorn.
One consequence of the demonstration of smaller parties at the local level is that councils are likely to be hanging. Even before the most recent survey that Oudtshoorn had one year without any advice in operation.
There were other noteworthy developments.
- Signs of a backlash against the law affirmative action favoring Africans was prominent during the electoral campaigns of the new Patriotic Alliance and the colored Congress parties of the Cape.
- The good performance of ActionSA, with its campaign for tough law enforcement against the African diaspora, it showed, in a disturbing way, that xenophobia attracts votes.
- The Inkatha Freedom Party proved it will survive the passing of the baton by its longtime founder and leader. Mangosuthu Buthelezi. Interestingly, his main vows lie on the borders of the ancient Zulu kingdom as they were at the beginning of King Shakathe reign. Districts that he later conquered, such as Tongaland and headquarters south of the Tugela river, now mostly ANC vote.
The more fragmented result of the survey means that many more coalitions are likely to form. But these will only last if they are enforced by national stakeholder executives. The written treaties are not infallible, the DA and the United Democratic Movement had that in Nelson Mandela Bay since the previous local elections in 2016, but they will certainly minimize the ruptures.
Such contracts must specify dispute resolution mechanisms, in addition to actual political commitments.
At this time, national executives from both the ANC and the DA will debate tough decisions. If they form municipal coalitions with each other, will this alienate voters for whom each promotes their party as a bulwark against the other? Furthermore, five years from now, can each persuade his followers that the successes were due only to them and the failures only to his coalition partners?
These difficult decisions will be paramount in Johannesburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay.
Looking more broadly at the way the elections were conducted, there were clear indications that cutting the budget of the electoral commission for R118 million it was a false economy. Elections are priceless in democracies. More comprehensive training and the hiring of experienced and ethical electoral veterans will be essential to the legitimacy of the upcoming 2024 general election.
Keith Gottschalk, Political Scientist, University of the Western Cape