South Africa: Focus On Service Delivery, Not Popularity, in Elections


The year 2016 was a watershed poll where the ANC lost control of Tshwane, the City of Johannesburg and Nelson Mandela Bay. With the help of the African Independent Congress, it managed to hold on to Ekurhuleni.

First published in the Daily Maverick 168 weekly newspaper.

President Cyril Ramaphosa's announcement of 27 October as the date for this year's local government elections has set into motion the campaigning for what will definitely be a highly contested poll.

Not only will these local government elections be taking place under unique circumstances given the Covid-19 pandemic, they will also give a clear indication of whether the parties' losses or gains of 2016 have been reversed at all.

The by-elections held on Wednesday 21 April would have boosted the ANC's ego while giving the DA something to be concerned about. The EFF will also have something to smile about, having increased its voter share, although it did not win any of the contested wards.

As with most elections, pundits have been quick to look at the results and the shifts in support to predict the probable trajectory of the various parties in the October elections.

But sometimes by-election outcomes are much like student...

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