Municipal boundary changes: Eastern Cape

12 May 2016
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Demarcations, redemarcations and various boundary changes are in the news for all sorts of exciting and disturbing reasons (Vuwani and Tlokwe). We’ll be reviewing the municipal boundary changes in the next few posts and the implications for voting results in the affected municipalities.

In the Eastern Cape there are four major mergers of local municipalities (as well as a few minor boundary changes between some municipalities). Ten municipalities are being collapsed into four new ones. The first map below shows the current municipal boundaries (in black) and the new boundaries post-2016 elections (in red). Note that apart from the amalgamations there are a number of smaller boundary changes:

Before we do the before-and-after analysis, here’s a quick reminder of the current political landscape:

The ANC has a majority in every Eastern Cape municipal council except for Baviaans, which the DA holds with a majority of just one seat. The map below shows the municipalities that are governed by a slim majority of just two seats (yellow) or even one (orange):

Of the five municipalities with the thinnest of majorities, three (Nxuba, Baviaans and Camdeboo) will be incorporated into new municipalities and two (Kouga and Kou-Kamma) will keep their 2011 boundaries.

The two maps below show the affected municipalities before and after the amalgamations:

The merger of Gariep and Maletswai is the least controversial of the four, at least as far as political intrigue goes. The ANC has majorities of four and six seats respectively in the two municipalities, giving the party a ten-seat majority in the new municipality.

The ANC has a two-seat majority in Nxuba, holding five seats to the DA’s two and the Nxuba Community Organisation’s (NCO’s) one. The municipality is merging with Nkonkobe, where the ANC holds 35 of the 41 council seats, making the new municipality safe beyond speculation.

The new ward demarcations might favour the the ANC, as the marginal Ward 3 in Nxuba will gain a bit of ballast. Back in 2011 the ANC won the ward with just 42 percent of the vote, while the NCO (28 percent) and the DA (26 percent) split the opposition vote.

In Inkwanca, the ANC originally won five of the seven council seats with the DA and COPE each winning a seat. After the dissolution of the council, all seven seats were contested. The DA won a ward off the ANC but lost its PR seat, leaving the ANC’s majority intact.

In any case, the municipality’s merger with Tsolwana (ANC eight seats, DA and COPE one each) and Lukhanji (where the ANC holds a whopping 45 out of 54 seats) will make the new municipality very safe for the ANC.

The merger of Baviaans with Ikwezi and Camdeboo is the most controversial. Baviaans is the only municipality in the province controlled by the DA, which has four council seats to the ANC’s three. This narrow majority for the opposition will be stacked up against the ANC’s two-seat majority in Camdeboo (eight seats to the DA’s six) and the party’s three-seat majority in Ikwezi.

On paper the new municipality should yield an ANC majority. The DA will be putting up a fight to retain its foothold on the Western Cape border and to even wiggle a few toes to the south, where it must believe that it can win Kouga and Kou-Kamma. In both municipalities the party is breathing down the ANC’s neck, with 14 seats to the ANC’s 15 in Kouga and five seats to the ANC’s six in Kou-Kamma.

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