MUNICIPAL ELECTIONS 2021: TRENDS AND CONSEQUENCES
Keith Gottschalk, academic and political commentator
This lecture description was written before voting day on 1 November 2021. What we knew in advance is that the nationally governing party does best in general elections, and that opposition parties do best during municipal and metro elections.
This lecture gives a swift overview of local government elections in the democratic epoch, noting their trends. It will take longer to analyse the November 2021 elections, to see if they accelerated or slowed down previous trends.
One widespread prediction is that there will be more municipal coalitions than ever before. These already ranged from the most unexpected – the DA and EFF in Tshwane and Johannesburg – to the rarest – ANC–DA coalitions in Beaufort West and Laingsberg. Some municipalities have suffered from hung councils which could not form any successful coalitions for months on end, with resulting paralysis over everything including passing the budget.
A parallel problem has been a move from permanent staff to contracts at the top level of city managers. Many changes of political party in power have resulted in purges of metro or municipal officials, damaging competency in administration. The hydra heads of corruption are amongst the consequences.