The big story: yes, your vote can make a change

In a little more than three weeks’ time, on 1 November, South Africans will head to the polls to select their local and municipal leaders. Many of you probably haven’t thought about it yet – we know, there’s so much else going on! – and if you have, you may be feeling completely disillusioned. So, on the day, you’ll make a random choice on the ballot – or not bother going to vote at all. 🥱

But the great thing about the upcoming local government elections is that things really are changing in terms of power. We’re no longer a country in which one party is guaranteed a win in every city; the last local government elections, in 2016, dramatically upset the status quo. 😁

We’re now in an era of coalition governments and enormous power for small parties that manage to get the swing vote in councils, setting them up as king makers. 

Plus, many have hailed the introduction of independent candidates – due to a landmark 2020 court ruling – as a game changer.

The official opposition, the DA, pushes the idea that the vote for a small party or an independent candidate is a wasted vote. That’s not true. Little is certain for the governing ANC or the DA in municipalities and wards across the country, and slim margins make a big difference. Your vote can change things. 

So, what should you be doing in the run-up to 1 November? Instead of trying to keep up with the roller coaster of election-related news about one politician’s gaffe after the other, or their endless grandstanding, turn your hand to research. 

Read manifestos, talk to local councillors and think about what’s important to you. Check out the fantastic site, municipalmoney.gov.za, to see how your municipality or metro has spent your taxes under different administrations. 

We’ll do a roundup in the next few weeks of what to know about each party. Until then, take heart and have hope. It’s time to get excited about elections again, SA. 😉

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 14 October 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.