South Africa under coalition rule

Political scientist, professor William Gumede says that South Africa is almost certainly headed towards an era of coalition politics – and that this could be a good thing.

Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) Chairperson Glen Mashinini has officially declared the 2021 Local Government Elections as free and fair. This as the IEC announced the final results of the elections at the National Results Operations Centre in Pretoria on Thursday.

More than 12 million South Africans cast their ballots to vote for candidates they prefer to represent them in the country’s 257 municipal councils.

The African National Congress (ANC) clinched the majority seats in 161 municipal councils, followed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) with 13 municipalities which is closely followed by the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) which now holds majority seats in 10 municipal councils.

The ruling party attracted 46.04% of the overall vote, followed by the Democratic Alliance at (21.84%). The IEC noted that at least 66 municipal councils are hung.

Results for the eight metropolitan municipalities:

Buffalo City

  • ANC: 59.43%
  • DA: 19.52%
  • EFF: 12.06%

City of Cape Town

  • DA: 58.22%
  • ANC: 18.63%
  • EFF: 4.13%


  • ANC: 38.19%
  • DA: 28.72%
  • EFF: 13.57%


  • ANC: 42.2%
  • DA: 25.6%
  • EFF: 10.49%

City of Johannesburg

  • ANC: 33.60%
  • DA: 26.47%
  • Action SA: 16.05%


  • ANC: 50.63%
  • DA: 25.73%
  • EFF: 11.31%

Nelson Mandela Bay

  • DA: 39.92%
  • ANC: 39.43%
  • EFF: 6.40%

City of Tshwane

  • ANC: 34.31%
  • DA: 32.34%
  • EFF: 10.62%

Many questions have arisen around the likelihood and effectiveness of coalition politics. “The diverse nature of our country needs a coalition government rather than one-party rule,” said Gumede at the Nedgroup Investments MultiManager Insights event.

“While there has been a lot of criticism around coalitions – mainly based on some spectacular but isolated failures in certain provinces – there have actually been some very successful coalitions. The key is ensuring they are in place for the right reasons.”

Gumede said a coalition is likely to fail if it exists purely to oppose the party in power. “A coalition must be based on joint policies – and, crucially, there must be a conflict mechanism in place.”

Dealing with legacy – why voters vote for loyalty and not delivery

According to Gumede, the issue of many South Africans voting based on their loyalty to the ANC and not necessarily the delivery of the promises they have made is a big issue for the country to address to achieve progress.

“This is not unique to South Africa and is prevalent in many developing countries where political parties have played very crucial roles in history. However, the problem of accountability arises when a political party knows that people will vote for them based on loyally.

“There is no incentive to deliver on difficult challenges like service delivery. We are seeing that unfold in South Africa at the moment,” he said.

He also raises the point that many ANC supporters come from a political culture when protesting on the streets achieves a more immediate response, so it is therefore perceived to be more effective than casting a single vote.

“Many people also don’t think that voting against their party is an effective way to make them more accountable – so this is a very difficult but important concept to overcome before we will see real progress,” he said.

All eyes on the new finance minister

Gumede said the new finance minister Enoch Godongwana was the right choice for South Africa in terms of understanding what the country requires to move forward.

“The national budget and how it’s put together is crucial for the future of this country. Godongwana understands that we are facing a fiscal crisis and he recognises the need to address this. I also think his background as a trade unionist makes him more likely to deliver a business-friendly budget to encourage positive growth and investment,” Gumede said.

Expropriation without compensation

The Draft Expropriation Bill will be voted on early next year. According to Gumede the ANC is currently split almost 50/50 regarding expropriation with or without compensations. However, the EFF is very much in favour of expropriation without compensation.

“The problem with expropriation without compensation is that it is not just a land issue it becomes a property rights issue which has major economic consequences as property rights is really at the heart of the market economy.

“Furthermore, history has shown that, often, the people who vote for the party who introduce these kinds of bills are the ones who suffer – and the ultimate result, therefore, is that the parties who do introduce it are voted out shortly thereafter,” he said.

Gumede pointed to Algeria, Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe who all took decades to recover or even show signs of recovering after introducing expropriation without compensation.

Dealing with South Africa’s energy crisis

South Africans will have to accept a 3–5-year timeline before we see any significant turnaround at Eskom, said Gumede. “It is much harder to reform an SOE once it is captured. Unless a CEO of an SOE gets all the political support and is allowed to right-size, it becomes very difficult. So far, the CEO has done a brilliant job under very difficult circumstances,” he said.

Trevor Garvin, head of Multi-Manager at Nedgroup Investments urges investors that although there is likely to be volatility ahead, to stay invested.

“Looking at the recovery of the markets since the Covid crisis shows the importance of staying invested through uncertain times. Since March 2020, local equity markets are up 86% and global market are even stronger – up 103% since 23 March 2020. The key lesson from this is to stay invested over the long term and particularly in times of anxiety,” he said.

Read: Ramaphosa still ANC’s best bet despite electoral results

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South Africa under coalition rule