By Jessie Taylor 


Shaking up the municipal governance landscape 

The Local Government Elections, which took place on 1 November, has seen a shakeup in the municipal governance landscape. With low voter turnout, the leading parties have seen an overall decrease in votes in favour of smaller parties, and almost a third of all municipalities did not see one party receive a majority vote.

Out of 213 councils across the province, 68 councils are hung councils. A hung council is one where no single party has the majority of seats. This results in the parties with the most votes or seats as the key decision-makers and requires parties to form a coalition municipality.

Even if a political party has the largest number of votes or seats, it will not automatically become the governing party. This only happens when a party secures a majority of 50% plus one. When no party wins a majority of seats in a municipal council, the largest political parties in the council usually attempt to form a formal coalition with other parties to secure a majority. However, parties with fewer votes may still form a ruling coalition to make up a majority.

Coastal provinces saw the highest number of hung councils. KwaZulu-Natal has the highest number of hung councils at 21, including in the metro of eThekweni. The Western Cape has 16 hung councils, and there are three hung councils in both the Northern Cape and the Eastern Cape (including in Nelson Mandela Bay metro).

In the inland provinces, Limpopo has two hung councils, Mpumalanga three, Gauteng six, North West three, and Free State four.

While hung councils may create challenges in putting together political coalitions, they speak to the health of South Africa’s democracy, said President Cyril Ramaphosa.

“In the run-up to election day, we have seen images of parties and candidates everywhere, on billboards, on street posters and on social media, all making a case for why they should get our vote. This is a sign that multiparty politics is flourishing in South Africa and that everyone has an equal chance and opportunity to run for public office,” said President Ramaphosa.

“This enriches us in many ways. It advances openness and transparency. It affirms that we are a diverse and tolerant society. It affirms the principle that leaders must be chosen by the people and be accountable to the people.”

The 2021 elections saw low voter turnout at a record low across the country. Of the more than 26 million registered voters, only just over 12 million cast votes on election day, putting voter turnout at a mere 46%. In the last local government elections held in 2016, voter turnout stood at 58% – a similar proportion measured in the 2011 local government elections.

However, an Election Satisfaction Survey found that 68% of voters took less than 15 minutes to reach their voting stations. On average, 77% of voters waited less than 15 minutes in the queue before voting.

The majority of voters (62%) said they had already decided on which party to vote for more than six months before the elections.

President Ramaphosa added: “I want to thank the 12 million South Africans who cast their ballots in this election. By performing this important civic duty, you have contributed to strengthening and consolidating democracy. I want to congratulate all South Africans for holding an election that was peaceful, free and fair.”


Results in the major metros:

  • Nelson Mandela Bay: The DA secured 39,92% of the vote, which equates to 48 seats. The ANC won 39.43% of the votes and also holds 48 seats. The EFF secured eight seats or 6.43% of the votes.
  • eThekweni: The ANC secured 42.02% of the vote, which equates to 96 seats. The DA won 25.62% of the votes and also holds 58 seats. The EFF secured 24 seats, or 10.48% of the votes.
  • Cape Town: The DA holds 58.22% of the vote, which equates to 135 seats. The ANC secured 43 seats, or 18.63% of the votes. The EFF secured 4.13% of the votes and 10 seats.
  • Tshwane: The ANC holds 34.63% of the vote, which equates to 75 seats. The DA won 32.03% of the votes and holds 69 seats. The EFF secured 23 seats, or 10.69% of the votes.
  • Johannesburg: With 33.60% of the votes, the ANC holds 91 seats. The DA holds 71 seats with 26.14% of the votes. ActionSA secured 16.05% of the votes and 44 seats.
  • Mangaung: The ANC secured 50.63% of the vote and holds 52 seats. The DA won 25.73% of the votes and secured 26 seats. The EFF holds 12 seats, with 11.31% of the vote.


The election in numbers

  • 26 204 579 registered voters
  • 1 110 257 applications for special votes
  • 23 148 voting stations
  • 95 000 candidates
  • 325 political parties
  • 257 municipalities
  • 64 502 results expected



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