A woman casting her vote during bye-elections at Mount Royal primary school near Durban. Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)
A woman casting her vote during bye-elections at Mount Royal primary school near Durban. Bongani Mbatha /African News Agency (ANA)

Smaller parties could be king makers in the 2021 local government elections due to unclear policy by the ANC, DA, says expert

By Sibusiso Mboto Time of article published Sep 22, 2021

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DURBAN - HIGH levels of disillusionment, lack of policy clarity from political parties and a genuine mistrust of leadership by the electorate makes the 2021 local government elections the messiest and most unpredictable election in the country’s history.

This is the view of political analysts as parties continued on the campaign trail this week, drumming up support ahead of the elections set for November 1.

The elections, which are now 39 days away, are likely to see the smaller parties and independent candidates emerging as kingmakers in many smaller councils. According to the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC), KwaZulu-Natal registered nearly a 100 000 new voters during the voter registration weekend, making it the province with the highest number of new voters.

KZN had 99 739 new voters registered, followed by Gauteng with 76 393 and Limpopo at 62 275 new voters.

One of the key features that emerged during the registration weekend is that young people in the age category 16-29 account for 402 401 of the new registrations.

“Therefore, this registration effort has elicited a good response from young persons,” said IEC spokesperson Kate Bapela, who also pointed out that 52% of all new registrations were female voters.

Political analyst Xolani Dube said although young people constituted a large number of new voters, they were not likely to go out in large numbers to cast their votes as they were at the receiving end of poverty and exclusion from economic activity.

Dube said this was the main reason young people were disillusioned with the country’s political landscape.

“You may have noticed that in some areas when leaders of political parties are campaigning there is a lukewarm response.

“When ANC president Cyril Ramaphosa was on a campaign trail there were instances where young people demonstrated anger towards him and this is what is likely to happen come November 1,” said Dube.

He said although the EFF had branded itself as being a young and vibrant organisation, there were questions about whether this would appeal to the youth at the polls, especially after it had entered into a coalition with the DA in Tshwane.

“The parties in South Africa are all the same, they do not offer something that makes them unique and that is why they enter into coalitions and this creates mistrust from the people that voted for them.”

Another analyst Daniel Silke said that the country’s two main political parties in the ANC and the DA were not offering clear policy direction and this could see smaller parties benefiting.

“The EFF’s niche is well defined in that it talks about young people and this could swing the fortunes in their favour,” said Silke, who also cautioned against overplaying the role of the youth in swinging the outcome of the vote.

He said in smaller municipalities where pressure groups and small parties had registered, this would have a bearing on who runs the councils.

“This election will be messy and is very difficult to call, but it is quite evident that in some councils smaller parties will be kingmakers, and we are likely see more coalitions after November,” Silke said.

According to the analyst, the country’s political leaders need to drive the process of attracting young people into democratic structures, as this would ensure that they get involved, a development that would benefit South Africa.


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