2021 Local Elections


Southern KZN-ECape: ANC happy with comfortable wins — some residents less so

Southern KZN-ECape: ANC happy with comfortable wins — some residents less so
Illustrative image: Swiegers/Bloomberg via Getty Images)

Although the ANC suffered heavy defeats in many parts of KwaZulu-Natal, particularly in the northern part of the province, there was never a doubt that the party would do very well in the southern part of the province bordering Eastern Cape and Lesotho. It also held on to Matatiele, which was incorporated into the Eastern Cape in 2006.


Over the years, uMzimkhulu Local Municipality has gained a dubious reputation as one of the most corrupt municipalities in the country. It was here in September 2017 that Sindiso Magaqa, former ANC Youth League secretary-general, was shot with two other ANC councillors as they travelled from an ANC meeting. Magaqa, who was an ANC councillor in uMzimkhulu at the time, died two weeks later of his injuries at a Durban hospital.

See Daily Maverick’s Ground Level Report here in the buildup to the local government elections: Umzimkhulu emerges from looting virtually unscathed, but enters polls beset by stench of corruption

The ANC has been accused of being at the centre of corruption, tender-rigging and service delivery failures in this and other municipalities.

Despite this, voters seemed to have rewarded the ruling party in the 1 November local government elections.

The ANC won 33 of the 43 seats in uMzimkhulu. The EFF became the official opposition after garnering six seats, while an independent candidate, the DA and the African Independent Congress (AIC) each got one seat.

Lydia Stuart, a 53-year-old uMzimkhulu resident, said she was despondent about the ANC continuing to govern in the area.

“But I hope the incoming municipality will do something about the crime, especially in the uMzimkhulu town. You cannot even walk at night because the vagrants and criminals would attack you, take everything,” she said.

uMzimkhulu was largely unscathed by the July looting and violence in KwaZulu-Natal, after armed local taxi groups blockaded entrance roads with their vehicles and formed human shields, threatening to “deal” with those defying them and trying to loot and burn. Only a few shops in the area were looted and none burnt.

Thembelani Thobela and Sibusiso Maduna, taxi drivers from Umzimkhulu. (Photo: Mlungisi Mbele)

Zenzele Msomi, ANC Harry Gwala spokesperson, told Daily Maverick his party was happy about its performance in easily winning in most of the district. The district municipality is made up of uMzimkhulu, Dr Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, Ubuhlebezwe and Greater Kokstad.

“Out of the 61 wards in the district, we only lost three. In uMzimkhulu, we lost only one ward to the independent candidate who was an ANC member who stood on his own after failing to make the list in the ANC processes.

“The people are still showing confidence in the movement of the people, the ANC. We must now reflect on these elections collectively as an organisation and work towards serving our people with humility and diligence,” Msomi said.

Political analyst Wayne Sussman said the ANC did surprisingly well in uMzimkhulu.

“The ANC suffered only a minor defeat to the EFF but, overall, the party should be happy about its performance here,” he said.

See the KwaZulu-Natal results here with our interactive map (click on a specific council to see results):



In the Greater Kokstad Municipality, it was feared the ANC would suffer as party cadres were wrestling with one another in the years and months before the 1 November local government elections.

umzimkhulu elections

Residents of Cedarville in Kokstad chant struggle songs on the highway, 6 October 2021 (Photo: Mlungisi Mbele)

06 October 2021: Lungisa Luthuli, a councilor at ward 26,  puts up a poster under the bridge with a resident at Cedarville in Kokstad, Photo:Mlungisi Mbele

But, despite the myriad problems besetting the governing party, it managed to hold on to power.

The East Griqualand Museum is one of the landmarks located within this municipality and it is home to a sizeable number of the Griqua people, who are classified as coloureds

Of the 19 seats in Greater Kokstad Municipality, the ANC won 12 (13 in 2016), the EFF won four (two in 2016) and the DA won two (three).

ANC regional spokesperson Msomi noted, “The ANC had problems in Kokstad, with comrades having political differences. As soon as the new Harry Gwala ANC regional leadership was elected we intervened and resolved those disputes and that allowed our structures to focus on service delivery and our electioneering processes were enhanced.”


The job-scarce Matatiele area is poorly developed. Photographed in October, 2021. (Photo: Mlungisi Mbele)

In nearby Matatiele Local Municipality, the ruling party also did extremely well, while the EFF more than doubled its seats in the council.

Surrounded by mountains in northern Eastern Cape, Matatiele was part of KwaZulu-Natal until 2006.

See Daily Maverick’s Ground Level Report before the November 1 elections here: The fight is on for the heart and soul of Matatiele — can the AIC claw back votes in the town where the ducks have flown away?

A view over Matatiele, located in the northern part of the Eastern Cape. According to the South African National Census of 2011, it has 12,466 residents and 4,107 households. It is the largest populated town in the Matatiele Local Municipality. (Photo: Mlungisi Mbele)

Fifty-four seats were in the offing in Matatiele, up from 51 in the 2016 local government poll. The ANC took 40 seats (in 2016 it won 38), with a total 72.96% of the poll. The EFF won seven (three). The DA declined from five seats in 2016 to three.

The African Independent Congress (AIC) dropped from four seats to two. Formed in 2006 after residents deserted the ANC to resist incorporation into Eastern Cape, the AIC was a kingmaker in a number of municipalities around the country in previous local elections. But it is now a shadow of its former self, bedevilled by leadership squabbles and accusations of corruption.

The UDM retained its one seat and the ATM, which canvassed for votes for the first time, also got one seat.

Ntabiseng Mokoena, a 27-year-old resident of Tsepisong, a rural village about 4km by a rough gravel road from Matatiele town, said she didn’t have much hope of things changing for the better.

“We voted just because we had to. But I don’t think we will get jobs or better roads or water regularly when we open our taps,” she lamented.

Tumi Motahapa, an EFF leader in Matatiele, was pleased with his party’s performance and said his party would push for council motions to discontinue tenders for cleaning services or fixing roads and instead use the municipality’s road-making plant to hire young people to fix potholes and build access roads in rural areas.

“We are now the official opposition and things will change. Our people need to get water, urgently. There must be a plan within three months that shows how people are going to be provided with basic water and sanitation. We need jobs in Matatiele, there must be a plan on how we are going to stop dishing out tenders and instead hire our young people,” said Motahapa.

Sussman commented: “The ANC was able to hold its ground here. But the party that lost the most is the AIC, which continued to decline.” DM

For a full lineup of all the council results, visit our interactive provincial maps here


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