As political parties discuss the possibility of forming coalitions following the 2016 Local Municipal Elections, the victory of the Democratic Alliance (DA) in Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane has analysts questioning the impact of the elections on the economy.
Speaking to VOC, political economist Mustoffa Khan explains that the African National Congress (ANC) was caught unexpectedly by these elections, since the DA successfully infiltrated vital metros.
He says that this election has shown the evident divide in the varied political standing of different communities, where urban residents have seemingly voted for the DA contrasted by the ANC’s support in rural areas.
Khan further notes that with the close of the elections, the entry of coalition politics certainly throws a spanner into the works, as the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) plays a unique role, where it will act as the swing vote.
“We know that the EFF is king makers in many of these metros, but in saying that the DA and the EFF are ideologically apart,” Khan stated.
He says that while macroeconomic concerns are not dealt with at the level of local government, analysts have suggested that the strengthening of the rand has granted the DA increased support.
“But this is false, our rand strengthening had more to do with the Bank of England as opposed to what we did with the local government election,” Khan asserted.
With regards to the EFF’s assertions that it will only form a coalition if the ANC fires President Jacob Zuma as its leader, Khan says that the ANC will need to make critical decisions if it hopes to retain its metros.
“I think they [the ANC] will stand with Jacob Zuma, only because we understand where ‘our bread is buttered’ most of the time.”
Given the ideological differences between the leading parties, he says that municipalities should be concerned with effectively delivering services to communities rather than party politics.
“At the cold face of delivery, I do not care if my councillor is and ANC or EFF councillor, as long as my lights are working and the streets are safe and clean,” he noted.
Khan adds that while the EFF may not appeal to many voters, he says that as a newly established party, the EFF’s continued existence is vital to the strengthening of democracy within the country.
He, however, notes that the party’s lack of established policies on vital economic issues, such as the exchange rate and subsidised education, is of concern.
“We need to know what they are actually selling, before we are able to buy it,” Khan said.
While the 2016 election is considered as having made history in post-Apartheid South Africa, he says that the election also served as an indication of the 2019 national elections, describing it as having “really shook things up.”
“If the ANC is not careful, it will lose the national elections. I think it is a credit to every single South African and the authorities that all our transitions have been peaceful and that goes to the maturity of the democracy,” Khan continued.