Six local contests to follow in the November 1 election

Alex Weiss | Oct 20, 2021
Local rather than national sentiment matters the most in deciding the outcome in metros, and local and district municipalities. Here are six local contests that are worth keeping an eye on in the November 1 election.

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Six local contests to follow in the November 1 election

In a previous article, we looked at recent polling on voter attitudes for the upcoming Local Government Election (LGE) and what they may indicate about its outcome. Local rather than national sentiment will matter the most in deciding the outcome in metros, and local and district municipalities. Here are six local contests that are worth keeping an eye on in the November 1 election:

 

  1. How ActionSA performs in the City of Johannesburg

ActionSA, led by former DA Johannesburg mayor Herman Mashaba, will be contesting their first election. With controversy having surrounded both Mashaba’s tenure as mayor and his subsequent exit from the DA, it will be worth keeping a tab on the party’s performance in the Johannesburg metro, to see if the party can win significant support and be a role player in determining who governs the city. Mashaba is also the party’s mayoral candidate for the city.

ActionSA’s own internal polling has them achieving 31.7% of the Jo’burg vote, marginally ahead of the ANC (30.5%) and ahead of the DA by 6 percentage points. However, independent polls by Ipsos and the Centre for Risk Analysis show that their support nationally is below 3%.

 

  1. DA performance in the metros

There are eight metro municipalities in South Africa. Metros, such as Cape Town, Johannesburg and eThekwini, are economic hubs and are important battlegrounds for most parties, with their large budgets and influence. 

The DA currently runs three of the eight metros. These are Cape Town, Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane; in the latter two it governs in coalition. Will the DA galvanize their supporters in urban areas to gain control of more metros and possibly win more than just Cape Town outright? And could it topple the ANC in places like Ekurhuleni and eThekwini?

 

  1. Will the ANC dip below the 50% mark nationally?

Local results are more important than national results in LGEs. However, overall support does give an indication of what might happen in the next national election, in 2024. On current trends, ANC support nationally in this election is likely to flirt with the 50% mark, the party having dropped to 53.9% in 2016, its lowest ever national result in any election.

Having dominated South African politics since 1994, dipping below 50% would be a massive psychological blow for the party and likely signify the beginning of the end of its dominance.

 

  1. Can the DA finally make a breakthrough in the Northern Cape?

The DA has a strong hold over the Western Cape and looks sure to hold on to its municipalities in that province. At the same time the party has also been yapping at the ANC’s heels in the Northern Cape in the last couple of elections, and 2021 could be the election in which it makes a real breakthrough there.

Winning a greater share of South Africa’s most sparsely populated province could set a precedent for the DA in capturing the western half of the country in the upcoming general election in 2024.

 

  1. What about the IFP?

On the back of the imprisonment of former president Jacob Zuma in July, and the ensuing riots and looting across KwaZulu-Natal (KZN) and parts of Gauteng, the IFP could make some gains in this election. In the last LGE, support for the IFP was 4.3% nationally and just over 18% in KZN – its strongest province - where it gained control of seven more local municipalities, including Nkandla. The IFP is also part of the coalition that runs the City of Johannesburg.

With the July riots having exposed the failings of the ANC’s governance and poor service delivery in KZN, will support for the IFP in the province grow and could it shift the dial on its support nationally?

 

  1. Can the EFF consolidate its support in the North West and Limpopo?

Limpopo and the North West have been the stronghold provinces for the EFF. Their best performing municipalities in the country in 2016 were Polokwane and Rustenburg, where they garnered 28% and 26.8% of the vote respectively.

If the EFF does benefit from the ANC’s projected ±4 percentage point loss in national support in the upcoming election, will this go towards shoring up support in these traditional strongholds or help them break new ground in other areas (particularly KwaZulu-Natal) – or both? And will the party manage to win a municipality outright and truly govern or will it have to settle for being the kingmaker in some places?

 

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