This is according to figures released by Statistics SA.
In last place was the Western Province, where only eight out of 30 mayors are women. Limpopo was the most progressive province, with 16 female mayors out of 27.
The figures are contained in a Stats SA report titled #WomensMonth: Exploring the Mayoral Glass Ceiling. The research showed that on a national scale, four out of 10 councils were headed by women.
Stats SA said the national figures suggested there had been a shift towards appointing more women.
“There is a caveat to this, however. South Africa changes its municipal structure every five years during local government elections, complicating matters when data is compared over time. So even though there wasn’t an increase in the number of women appointed, the amalgamation of municipalities pushed the percentage of female mayors up from 38% in 2016, to 42% in 2017,” it said.
Nonhlanhla Gabela, the KZN ANC Women’s League secretary, said one of the reasons for the low number of female mayors in the province was because of political killings.
Gabela said competition for positions had become intense, leading to political murders that deterred women from entering the arena.
The women’s league had been fighting for greater representation of women within the party too, she said.
The league was disappointed that the party had only one woman in its “Top Six” structure, a reduction from the two before last year’s elective conference.
The IFP’s Co-operative Governance and Traditional Affairs spokesperson, Princess Phumzile Buthelezi, said men were given preference for positions even if they had the same qualifications as women.
Women had to ask for special favours to get positions.
“It is just not right,” Buthelezi said.
The issue affected all political parties, she added.