Citizens the winners in municipal polls
5 August 2016
Pretoria - The Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) is still wrapping up the final results of the 2016 Municipal Elections at the Results Operations Centre in Pretoria.
South Africans took to the polls on Wednesday in a hotly contested election.
There is no doubt that South Africa’s fifth municipal elections have produced both winners and losers. SAnews spoke to independent political analyst Eusebius McKaiser who puts things into perspective for us.
Although several smaller political parties, like the Congress of the People, the Pan Africanist Congress and Freedom Front Plus suffered humiliating defeats in the elections, for McKaiser the real winners in these elections are the people of South Africa and the country whose democracy continues to show strength and resilience.
“The voters here are the winners, democracy is the winner. The reality is that we are entrenching democracy. Obviously the ANC’s share of the vote is declining in some areas as we have seen in Port Elizabeth and Western Cape. But, even so it has won more than 50 percent of the vote in the country which is still a good story to tell for the party after 22 years of democracy," said McKaiser.
With more than 95% of the results captured shortly after 2pm, the ANC looks set to retain most of the key municipalities it controlled from 2011, although the party fell short of governing Nelson Mandela Bay, an area that has been its stronghold since taking power in 1994.
The ANC is also in a celebratory mood in the Free State after the party registered a convincing victory there and looks set to control all 19 municipalities in the province. The ruling party was also leading in KwaZulu-Natal by a commanding 57%.
Possibilities of a coalition in cities like Tshwane - where the ANC and DA were still neck-and-neck - are still likely with 72% percent of the vote results having been captured by 2pm. The DA was leading there at just over 43% of the vote followed by the ANC at just over 41% and the EFF shy of 11%.
“The DA has come up; it will probably have another mayor somewhere in Gauteng. But if we cut through all the data, the bottom line is that we are entrenching democracy and this is a good story regardless of your political affiliation,” said McKaiser.
The DA has gained control of the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality after garnering more than 46 percent of the vote. McKaiser agrees with what many analysts have been saying that although the DA win is not a large proportion, the results certainly serve as a psychological boost for the party and makes the DA the largest party in that municipality. But it needs to be stated that the DA does not have enough seats to form a council in Nelson Mandela Bay and a coalition led by the party will be a reality.
After Cape Town, the Nelson Mandela Bay is the second metro in South Africa under the control of the DA following these elections. The DA secured a two thirds majority in Cape Town garnering more 66 percent of the vote there.
Although the EFF has thus far failed in their bid to control at least one municipality, the three-year-old party managed to make inroads in almost all the wards and councils they were contesting.
McKaiser emphasised that it would be a mistake and a misunderstanding of how the local government sphere works if people judge the EFF merely based on the party’s inability to win control of a single municipality.
“The reality is that they have over 1.2 million individual votes being cast in their favour. For a first time entrant, that is remarkable and most importantly, they will be kingmakers in many municipalities.
“So the right thing to analyse if you are a citizen or a journalist is how many wards have been won by a party and how many Proportional Representation seats have been allocated. Don’t only look which council the party is controlling,” McKaiser said.
He added: “Parties like the IFP for instance suddenly have important power in provinces like KwaZulu-Natal because it’s not about controlling a council, it’s about seats and whether you are kingmaker if you are a small party.”
The Congress of the People seem to have been among the losers in the election following a trend that started in the 2014 National Elections. By 2pm, the party had just received a paltry 0.25% share of the vote in Tshwane and 0.18% in Johannesburg.