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South Africa: Surprise coalitions see ANC ousted from many local councils

By Carien du Plessis
Posted on Wednesday, 24 November 2021 18:30

South Africa's President Ramaphosa meets Kenya's President Kenyatta during state visit in Pretoria
South Africa's President Cyril Ramaphosa gestures as he addresses members of the media during the state visit of Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta, at the government's Union Buildings in Pretoria, South Africa, November 23, 2021. REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

President Cyril Ramaphosa has expressed fears that the surprise opposition alliances in South Africa's newly-elected local councils could see service delivery and good governance upended. The governing African National Congress (ANC) was ousted in most of these.

“I’d like to see stability in our local government sector,” he told journalists at the Union Buildings where he hosted a state visit by Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday. “Whatever coalitions are being formed, and that have formed, [I would like to see] that we do not have instability and collapse, [and] motions of no confidence.”

Ramaphosa also expressed disappointment as the developments, which saw the election of Democratic Alliance (DA) mayors in a number of cities, spelled a second setback for his party this month. The first was the disappointing election results that followed a poor turnout at the polls. The ANC garnered 46.5% of the votes, dropping below 50% for the first time.

He however urged everyone to accept the outcome. “What is unfolding is how democracy works,” Ramaphosa said. “As the president of the governing party, it is disappointing for the African National Congress, but that is how we should accept the clear message of our people.”

Ensuing negotiations

Following the announcement of the 1 November local government election results, political parties have spent the past two weeks trying to negotiate coalitions behind closed doors before the 23 November deadline.

Most of the negotiations have failed, especially for the larger municipalities, because none of the bigger opposition parties are willing to work with the ANC, which won in most of these municipalities, but with a much reduced majority.