Our take: Gear up for your elections

Dust off your tatty old “green book”, or check that your smart ID card is safely in your wallet: local government elections are just 6 days away!  As we reported two weeks back, power is shifting and your vote could lead to meaningful change. 🙌🏽

But what’s this election all about? There are two areas in play here: your ward – your smaller neighbourhood area – and your larger area, either a city (metro) or a municipality that sits under a district municipality. 

These are responsible for delivering services like water, electricity and sanitation. You’re essentially voting for who manages your taxes and service delivery in your neighbourhood. 

If you live in one of SA’s eight metros you’ll get two ballot papers: one for the party you want in charge of your city, and one for your ward councillor, who will represent your area in the city’s council. 

The process is slightly different if you live outside a major city. Don’t worry, we’ve got you: see our handy explainer on our site for all the details. ☝🏽

So, how do you know who’s running? You can use this nifty tool – https://mycandidate.opencitieslab.org/ – to find your ward councillor. Then check out their manifestos and try to talk to the people running in your neighbourhood, though their information is often woefully unavailable. Your local WhatsApp group may be a good way to trace them. 

Another useful approach is to check how those who HAVE been running your area have performed. News24’s comprehensive dashboard, https://outoforder.news24.com/, will give you more insight into your municipality’s current state of affairs and its past performance. 

The good thing about these elections is that there’s pretty much something for everyone, party-wise, on the ballots. Daily Maverick has done a great roundup of party manifestos here.  

Coalitions will be key; we’ll explain more about the “how” and “why” next week. For now, start paying attention to your mayoral candidate’s campaign and try quizzing your local reps! That is, if you can find them… 🙈 

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 21 October 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.