I know, I know, the headline is a little bit clickbaity. But you know that we have the good stuff on this blog. Here are two maps which will give you the solid background you need to speak intelligibly and intelligently about the upcoming municipal elections.
The first map shows the current state of governance / rule / control in municipalities across South Africa, as at 5 April 2016. It includes 2011 municipal election results and all by-election results from 2011 up to the present:
Most municipalities are controlled by an ANC majority, and in three provinces (Free State, Limpopo, Mpumalanga) the party controls every single municipality. In Gauteng only the Midvaal municipality spoils the ANC’s perfect record, and in the Eastern Cape it’s just the Baviaans municipality that is the exception. Both of these municipalities are controlled by the DA.
In the North-West there’s a whole Tlokwe-sized battleground preventing the ANC from obtaining a perfect score in that province. A DA-led opposition coalition is currently in power but hardly in firm control.
In the remaining three provinces the story is more fluid and more interesting. The DA controls about half of the Western Cape municipalities outright, and the party is in control or in coalition in about two-thirds of the municipalities. The ANC is in government in a third of all municipalities but the party has some momentum, having won wards in two West Coast municipalities (and taking one of the municipalities from the DA in the process).
The ANC controls most of the Northern Cape and is particularly strong in the more-populous north of the province. However, there are four municipalities in the south controlled by opposition coalitions (the DA, COPE and the odd independent candidate).
The southern half of KwaZulu-Natal (including Ethekwini metro) is fairly solid ANC territory. The northern half of the province, on the other hand, is the scene of a fierce fight between the ANC-NFP alliance and the IFP. Most of the municipalities here are governed by the ANC-NFP alliance, some are controlled by the ANC outright and one even has a clear NFP majority. Five municipalities are controlled by an IFP majority.
That first map told us what things look like at the moment. The next map gives a few clues on what things might look like after the 2016 elections. It highlights the municipalities with very slim majorities:
The map shows the municipalities where the ruling party or coalition only has a majority of two seats (yellow), one seat (orange) or even no seats (red). All of these municipalities could see a change in government if just one seat were to change hands: a two-seat majority becomes a hung council, for example, while a one-seat majority for one party / coalition becomes a one-seat majority for the other side.
Municipalities in the same three provinces feature prominently on this map, which is perfectly logical: many coalitions are created out of necessity and by definition have slim majorities (although many ANC/NFP-controlled municipalities are on firmer ground).
There are a lot of Northern Cape and Western Cape municipalities that could be up for grabs. There are a few details and subtleties that we need to tease out in subsequent posts (e.g. municipal mergers post-election and the extra constituency-based challenges of smaller municipalities) but these two maps will take you far, loyal sportsfans.