Cape Town - 160606 - 2016 Local Elections logo

This time next week, South Africans will vote at the country's 22 612 polling stations for their metro, town or district councils. In the last local government elections, 13 664 914 citizens cast their ballots.

The turnout in KwaZulu-Natal was 2 865 855, one of the highest provinces at 61.53% – 4% above the national average. Oddly, interest in municipal elections tends to be less than in national and provincial polls.

We will know in eight days whether the ANC-DA contest, where the latter is campaigning to topple the giant in three metros and other councils, stirred more voters to participate. Another strong factor in invigorated public interest could be the first municipal challenge for the EFF.

With days to go, the electioneering tempo has quickened, and the decibels have risen. Recent days have seen President Zuma seeking to brand his main opponents as born of apartheid. The DA, in turn, has sought to portray the majority party as one in corrupt decline, far from what it was.

And the EFF has snapped at both, focusing on a government that is in it for itself, which has failed citizens.

Though the week ahead is the time for maximum political impact, parties and their leaders must resist crossing the line between fierce canvassing and inflammatory talk. They should be abiding by the spirit of the electoral code of conduct, not manoeuvring between its technicalities.

This requires leadership and restraint. As polling day tensions build, this should be a time for talking up one's virtues, not personal invective against rivals. When they vote, people should take into account politicians' conduct at this juncture. May cheap politics prove costly to them.

Coming days will also see the biggest promises, the undeliverable pledged with flourish. Parties will probably speak of things not in the competence of municipal councils. This should also count against those airing them.