African Political Insight no 2


WHAT NOW?: SA’s New Political Landscape: Three Fresh Scenarios

SOUTH AFRICA’S political map has changed significantly. The coalition negotiations that have followed the local government elections have confirmed their game-changing implications. The ANC has suffered major setbacks, and has lost power in most of the 27 hung municipalities in which no single party secured a clear majority. The DA has managed to win the mayoral positions in about two thirds of those hung councils, including the three key urban battlegrounds: Tshwane (Pretoria), Johannesburg, and Nelson Mandela Bay (Port Elizabeth). But what now? The coalition negotiations have been intense, testing the strategic and tactical mettle of leaders on all sides. And although DA Mayors were elected in all three of the frontline metros, and the party consolidated its position as the leading opposition party, it is dependent on the continued support of the EFF, which has decided not to enter into formal coalitions with any party but has supported DA mayors instead on the basis that this would push the ANC out of power. Thus, the EFF has cemented its newly won ‘kingmaker’ role by forcing the DA to lead minority governments in several metro governments. In this sense, the 2016 municipal elections have not only broken the ANC monopoly on political legitimacy and power in post-apartheid South Africa, but also opened up an era of great political and governmental uncertainty in which several scenarios are possible: good, bad, and ugly. In this, the second of our African Political Insights Series, we analyse South Africa’s new political landscape after the watershed local government elections.