South Africa

2021 ELECTIONS

Coalitions and Kingmakers: A look at four hung councils in Western Cape

Campaign posters for the African National Congress, Democratic Alliance, Economic Freedom Fighters and Freedom Front Plus. (Photo: Waldo Swiegers / Bloomberg via Getty Images)

More than half the municipalities in the Western Cape are hung councils, with intense party negotiations taking place over the next few days to form new governance structures. Here are four municipalities that will be negotiating coalitions in the coming days.

Prince Albert  

Prince Albert Local Municipality in the Central Karoo is one of 16 hung municipalities in the Western Cape. Prince Albert Municipality includes the town it is named after, as well as Leeu-Gamka and Klaarstroom. 

In the 2021 local government elections, the DA finished first with 37.44% of the vote in Prince Albert — increasing from 33.53% in 2016 — but once again failing to achieve outright control of the municipality. 

After the 2016 local elections, the DA held three of the seven seats on the council, with the ANC and the Karoo Gemeenskap Party (KGP) taking two seats each. The KGP went into coalition with the DA — an alliance which would last for four years. 

In July 2020, the KGP broke the coalition with the DA and went to bed with the ANC. 

The KGP has been a force in Prince Albert for the past three elections. Founded by former teacher Goliath Lottering in 2010, the party performed well enough in both the 2011 and 2016 elections to serve as kingmaker in the municipality and earn Lottering the title of mayor.  

Daily Maverick visited the area in the weeks before the elections, to report on the buildup. See our Ground Level report here

Ahead of this year’s elections, Lottering told Daily Maverick that if the KGP did not receive an outright majority in Prince Albert and once again found itself in a kingmaker position after the elections, the party would opt again for a coalition with the ANC.

After the 2021 elections, the DA again has three of the seven seats on the council, with the KGP retaining its two seats. The ANC is down a seat, with one, and the Patriotic Alliance has one. 

This means the KGP once again holds kingmaker status in the municipality. 

“As the KGP, we are a bit disappointed in the outcome,” Lottering told Daily Maverick.

In this year’s polls, the DA finished first with 4,194 votes in the Prince Albert Municipality, followed by the KGP with 2,467 votes, while the new kid on the block — the Patriotic Alliance — finished ahead of the ANC, with 1,607 votes.  

The newly formed United Community Front (UCF) did not manage to secure a seat on the council, but received 512 votes in the municipality in these elections — finishing ahead of the Good party, which received 230 votes, Spectrum National Party (SNP) with 210 votes, and the EFF with 88 votes.

The KGP had hoped to receive 5,000 votes, Lottering had told Daily Maverick, and an outright majority in the 2021 elections.  

Lottering said the KGP would like to work with the ANC or PA, but is “also open to talks with the DA”. 

“We are open to any [coalition] talks… We are waiting for any party who would like to work with us in the next five years in a coalition,” he said.  

Bitou

Bitou Local Municipality, which includes Plettenberg Bay and spans Nature’s Valley, Kranshoek and Harkerville, remains a hung council, with the emergence of several local parties as possible kingmakers.

Peter Lobese’s Active United Front (AUF) won a seat on the Bitou council in the 2016 local elections, where it held the balance of power after the DA and ANC each won six seats on the 13-seat council.

After emerging as kingmaker, Lobese sided with the ANC in a bid to become mayor. Lobese and the AUF have since oscillated between the ANC and the DA. 

In April 2021, Lobese was ousted as mayor through a vote of no confidence and was later suspended as a councillor over allegations of maladministration. 

With Lobese off the council, Bitou governance was essentially deadlocked ahead of the November polls by a hung municipality, in which the ANC and DA each held six seats. 

GroundUp visited the area in the weeks before the elections, to report on how the political impasse was affecting service delivery. Read its Ground Level report here

In the 2021 elections, the DA finished first in Bitou Municipality with 40.36% of the vote — slipping from 48.58% in 2016 — and again falling short of an outright majority.

The DA took five of the 13 seats on the council, followed by the ANC with four seats, and the AUF, the newly formed Plett Democratic Congress, the Ikhwezi Political Movement (IPM) and the PA with one seat each.

The DA won wards 1, 2 and 7, but lost Ward 4 to a new local party, the Plett Democratic Congress (PDC). The PDC was founded by local resident and party leader Claude Terblanche in mid-2020. 

Speaking to Daily Maverick about his party’s victory, Terblanche said he was “quite excited about the challenge”, and the PDC is “part of history”. 

It is the first time that a local party has won a ward in Bitou Municipality.

With the ANC and DA wary of working with the AUF again, the PDC and Ikhwezi Political Movement hold the keys to power in Bitou Municipality with their kingmaker status.

Terblanche said he was “not in a position to comment on coalition partners, as coalition negotiation processes are currently under way”.

Knysna 

The DA and the ANC both lost ground in Knysna in this year’s polls. The DA finished first with 35.44% of the vote — dropping from 49.61% in 2016 — and falling dismally short of outright control of the municipality. 

In 2016, the DA took 10 of the 20 seats on the council, followed by the ANC with seven seats, and the ACDP, Cope and the Knysna Unity Congress (KUC) with one seat each. 

In this year’s polls, the DA has eight of 21 seats on the council, followed by the ANC with seven seats, the Knysna Independent Movement (KIM) and the PA with two seats each, and the Plaaslike Besorgde Inwoners (PBI) and EFF with one seat each.  

Saldanha Bay 

In this year’s elections, support for the DA declined in the Western Cape. The party lost its outright majority in several municipalities in the province, including in Saldanha Bay on the West Coast. Situated about 140km from Cape Town, Saldanha Bay is known for fishing and a growing number of industrial developments.  

Support for the DA in Saldanha Bay Municipality slipped from 61.15% in 2016 to 46.34% in this year’s polls.  

The DA now has 13 seats on the council, followed by the ANC with six, Good with four seats, and the PA, EFF, VF+ and the Cape Coloured Congress (CCC) with one seat each. DA

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  • Ho hum – another DM psuedo-analysis of the Western Cape and the DA. There were 66 hung municipalities. Can someone give us an analysis of the other non-Western Cape hung munis please?

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