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2021 South African municipal elections

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

2021 South African municipal elections

← 2016 2021 2026 →

All councillors for all 8 metropolitan municipalities

All councillors for all 205 local municipalities

40% of councillors for all 44 district municipalities
Mr. Houlin Zhao, ITU Secretary-General with H. E. Mr. Cyril Ramaphosa, President, South Africa (cropped).jpg
John Steenhuisen (cropped).jpg
Leader Cyril Ramaphosa John Steenhuisen
Party ANC Democratic Alliance
Leader since 18 December 2017 17 November 2019
Last election 53.91% 26.90%

Julius Malema, EFF CIC (2019).png
Velenkosini Hlabisa.jpg
Leader Julius Malema Velenkosini Hlabisa
Party Economic Freedom Fighters IFP
Leader since 26 July 2013 25 August 2019
Last election 8.19% 4.25%

The 2021 South African municipal elections will be held in 2021, to elect councils for all district, metropolitan and local municipalities in each of the country's nine provinces. It will be the sixth municipal election held in South Africa since the end of apartheid in 1994; municipal elections are held every five years. The previous municipal elections were held in 2016.

Electoral system

Local government in South Africa consists of municipalities of various types. The largest metropolitan areas are governed by metropolitan municipalities, while the rest of the country is divided into district municipalities, each of which consists of several local municipalities. After the 2016 elections, there were eight metropolitan municipalities, 44 district municipalities and 205 local municipalities.[1]

The councils of metropolitan and local municipalities are elected through a system of mixed-member proportional representation, in which half of the seats in each municipality are elected on the first-past-the-post system in single-member wards and the other half of the seats are allocated according to the proportional representation (PR) system. The latter takes into account the number of ward seats won by a party and ensures that the final number of seats held by that party is proportional to their percentage of the total vote.[2]

District municipality councils are partly elected by proportional representation and partly appointed by the councils of the constituent local municipalities. Voters in both metropolitan and local municipalities elect a single ward candidate as well as a proportional representative in their municipal council. Residents of municipalities that form part of district councils (that is, excluding metropolitan municipalities) also cast a third vote to elect a proportional representative for their district council in addition to the two votes they cast for their local council.[3][4]

Political parties

The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has been the majority party in most municipalities across South Africa, with the exception of those in the Western Cape, since 1994. Its overall share of the vote decreased from 61.95% in 2011 to 53.91% in 2016 amid growing discontent regarding the state of the country's economy and perceived corruption within the organisation. The party lost many municipalities and support in the previous municipal elections, including the mayoralty and majority in councils such as Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane and Johannesurg.[5] The party had to form coalitions to retain control of the City of Ekurhuleni and many other municipalities. The ANC has managed to gain back control in many municipalities through motions of no confidence. Although the party ousted the Democratic Alliance administration in Nelson Mandela Bay, the party voted to elect a mayor from the United Democratic Movement (UDM). The ANC was led by Jacob Zuma until he was replaced by Cyril Ramaphosa at the 57th National Conference in December 2017. Ramaphosa assumed the presidency in February 2018 and the ANC won the 2019 national elections with a slight decrease in the number of votes.[6][7][8][9] The ANC regained control of the City of Johannesburg on 4 December 2019 following the election of its regional leader, Geoff Makhubo, to the mayoralty.[10] The party voted to remove the UDM mayor of Nelson Mandela Bay on 5 December 2019.[11]

The official opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), under the leadership of Mmusi Maimane, increased its total share of the vote from to 23.94% in 2011 to 26.90% in 2016. The party gained significant support and control of municipalities all across South Africa whilst assuming control of most Western Cape councils. In addition, the party gained three metropolitan municipalities from the ANC – Tshwane, Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay.[12][13][14] The party did increase its majority in City of Cape Town.[15] The DA lost control of the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality in August 2018, after a motion of no confidence ousted the DA mayor Athol Trollip.[16] The party's support decreased in the 2019 national elections. Following the national elections, the DA has shown a growing decrease in support in subsequent municipal by-elections.[17] Mmusi Maimane resigned as DA leader in October 2019,[18] and John Steenhuisen was elected as interim party leader in November 2019.[19] The DA lost control of the City of Johannesburg in December 2019.[20]

The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is a splinter party of the ANC that was formed in July 2013 by expelled ANC Youth League leader, Julius Malema. The party was considered the kingmaker for the control of many councils in the aftermath of the 2016 municipal elections. The party increased their support in the 2019 national elections and is currently the second-largest party in three out of the nine provinces.[21][22]

The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) saw an increase in their share of the vote in 2016 to just over 4 percent, which gave them control of 11 local municipalities and 2 district municipalities, they also co-govern Johannesburg as part of a coalition. The party will be looking to build on their resurgence within their traditional stronghold of KwaZulu-Natal as well as make inroads in other provinces since for the first time in their history, the party will be led by a new president.[23]

Coalition governments

The 2016 municipal elections resulted in many hung councils across South Africa. The ANC lost its council majority in four metropolitan municipalities – Tshwane, Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay, City of Ekurhuleni. This consequently created an opportunity for opposition parties to form coalitions to achieve the mayoralties of these key municipalities. The EFF was essentially seen as the kingmaker and voted with the DA to install DA mayors in three out of the four metros and also in smaller local municipalities.[24][25][26] The ANC managed to hold on to the City of Ekurhuleni through a coalition with smaller parties, and later won back the City of Johannesburg.[27][28]

Eventually, through motions of no-confidence, the ANC managed to regain control of a select few municipalities. Even though an ANC-sponsored motion of no confidence removed the DA administration in Nelson Mandela Bay, the ANC voted for a United Democratic Movement (UDM) mayor.[29][30]

In July 2019, the EFF announced that it would no longer support the DA or ANC in minority councils.[31] The party made this announcement after the DA rejected their offer for co-governance in the Johannesburg and Tshwane metropolitan municipalities.[32] The EFF sought the Tshwane mayorship and MMCs in the Johannesburg Mayoral Committee and the DA declined the EFF's proposal, stating that they would rather prefer that the status quo remain.[33][34]

Target municipalities

Following the 2019 general elections, political parties started to strategise and plan their 2021 municipal elections campaigns.[35]

City of Cape Town

The African National Congress in the Western Cape announced after the 2019 election results were released, that the results were a platform for the party to retake control of the City of Cape Town. The ANC lost control of the metropolitan municipality in 2006. The results also showed that smaller political parties had made inroads in the city's suburbs and communities.[36]

The Democratic Alliance's support in the city dropped. In the national election, the party declined with six percentage points, obtaining only 53%, compared to 59% in the 2014 elections. The party's support decreased from the 67% it had achieved in the 2016 municipal elections to only 56% in the provincial election.[37]

The newly established political party Good, led by former DA mayor Patricia de Lille, and the Economic Freedom Fighters both had a strong showing in the city.[38][39]


In the 2019 general elections, the African National Congress declined in the metropolitan municipality, centred around Durban. In the provincial election, the ANC's support decreased by 11 percentage points compared to 2014 results, and 10 percentage points in the national election. The DA's support in the city remained relatively stable. The decline of the ANC can be attributed to the strong showing of the EFF and the resurgence of the Inkatha Freedom Party.[40][41] Controversial ANC mayor Zandile Gumede resigned as mayor in 2019 and was replaced with Mxolisi Kaunda.[42]


Following the general elections in 2014, the DA had received more votes than the then-ruling ANC in the municipality. Analysts at the time suggested that the ANC would lose its majority in 2016.[43]

The Democratic Alliance achieved a plurality of votes in the metropolitan municipality in the 2016 municipal elections. The party managed to form a coalition with smaller parties that were supported by the EFF. DA Gauteng Provincial Legislature Member Solly Msimanga was consequently elected mayor. Msimanga resigned in February 2019 and was succeeded by DA Member of Parliament Stevens Mokgalapa.[43] In the 2019 elections, the party had a dismal showing and only received just 29.52% of the provincial vote in the municipality, even though former mayor Msimanga was the party's premier candidate. The party's support was even lower on the national vote. The ANC regained lost ground, while the EFF made gains.[43] Following the elections, the EFF proposed that the party should co-govern with the DA in the Johannesburg and Tshwane metropolitan municipalities. The DA rejected the EFF's proposal, which led to the EFF withdrawing its support from the DA in all minority councils.[44]

Mokgalapa was removed as mayor via a motion of no-confidence on 5 December 2019, but the Gauteng High Court later on suspended his removal.[45][46] However, he announced his resignation as mayor in February 2020.[47] The DA had selected former MMC for Economic Development and Spatial Planning Randall Williams as its preferred mayoral candidate for the city.[48] On 5 March 2020, the Tshwane municipality was placed under administration by the Gauteng provincial government and the council was consequently dissolved. A new council was supposed to be elected.[49] The DA consequently took the matter to court. On 29 April 2020, the North Gauteng High Court overturned the decision by the provincial government.[50] On 7 May, the ANC lodged an appeal against the judgement.[51] After months of legal challenges, the Supreme Court of Appeal overturned the provincial government's decision on 27 October 2020.[52] Soon after, the DA's Randall Williams was elected mayor.[53]


The ANC lost control of the City of Johannesburg in 2016.[54] The Democratic Alliance's mayoral candidate Herman Mashaba consequently assumed the mayoralty. He held the position until he stepped down in 2019.[55] The election for the mayor was held on 4 December 2019.[56] The DA nominated Finance MMC Funzela Ngobeni to succeed Mashaba, while the ANC nominated its regional chair Geoff Makhubo.[57][58] The EFF designated Musa Novela as its candidate.[59] Makhubo won the election, marking the return of the ANC to the city's executive since its removal in 2016.[60]


  1. ^ Local government. Retrieved on 1 June 2019
  2. ^ Frequently Asked Questions: Elections. Retrieved on 1 June 2019.
  3. ^ National, provincial and municipal elections explained, Alberton Record, 7 May 2019. Retrieved on 1 June 2019.
  4. ^ Local Government Elections. Retrieved on 1 June 2019.
  5. ^ Munusamy, Ranjeni. "LGE2016: Hung municipalities destined for minority coun..." Daily Maverick.
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  29. ^ Athol Trollip ousted as Nelson Mandela mayor, BusinessLIVE, 27 August 2018. Retrieved on 3 July 2019.
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