The big story: The final countdown

Today you’ll be choosing your local government leaders!

So, in our final pre-election explainer, we want to talk about coalitions. 🤝

The last local government elections in 2016 saw shock losses for the ANC in major cities, while opposition parties banded together to keep the ruling party out. 

The DA coalesced with smaller parties to retain power in the City of Joburg, Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane metros. But we’re new at this and things got messy. Smaller parties became kingmakers, and switched allegiances, while unstable coalitions repeatedly fell apart as ideologically different parties like the EFF and DA couldn’t make it work.  

Nelson Mandela Bay saw one mayoral change after another while citizens’ needs were sidelined by political infighting, and Tshwane was put under administration. 

We’re far from the mature coalitions that have seen good outcomes for citizens elsewhere. News24’s recent Out of Order index on municipalities found that only one local municipality in the top 10 had a coalition government. 

Recently the DA showed its hand after a leaked recording from 2019 surfaced in which chairperson Helen Zille is heard saying the DA should consolidate its support at 20% and enter into a coalition with the ANC. She quickly backtracked this week, but the DA’s increasing focus on a conservative, largely white minority shows it’s not really serious about governing on its own. 

So what’s your takeaway from all this? Simply put: your vote matters more than ever. A couple of seats in a council can make or break the strength of a coalition government. Go out and choose a party with a good track record in your city or an independent candidate you believe in. We’re living in an era where their voice really can make a difference. 💪🏽

This article appeared as part of The Wrap, 28 October 2021. Sign up to receive our weekly updates.