For the first time in South African history, major coalition politics is at play, threatening to wrest control of crucial metropolitan areas from the hands of the ruling ANC government.
According to Nomura chief strategist for Africa, Peter Attard Montalto, coalitions are currently the biggest political risk in South Africa, as parties shuffle trying to score the majority vote in hung municipalities across the country.
The deadline for coalitions to be established is Saturday 20 August, when the first council meetings are to be held.
All eyes will be on the biggest parties – the ANC, DA and EFF – which will tip the scales in metros including Johannesburg, Tshwane, Rustenburg, Ekurhuleni and Nelson Mandela Bay.
The most likely partnerships would occur between the DA, EFF and other smaller parties, after the EFF’s demands for president Jacob Zuma to be removed were dismissed by the ANC.
For its part, the ANC will also be courting smaller parties to try and gain a majority in certain areas – though secretary general of the ANC, Gwede Mantashe, said the party is ready to play the role of opposition party in areas where an ANC majority can not be secured.
The ANC and African Independent Congress (AIC) announced that they have agreed – in principle – to enter into coalitions in Ekurhuleni, the City of Johannesburg, Nelson Mandela Bay and in Rustenburg.
The AIC said, however, that if it is shown that the ruling party does not take its demands seriously, it would pull out at any time. The party won 10 seats in total in the elections.
According to a report by the City Press, it is understood that the DA and EFF have struck a tentative deal, in which the two politically and ideologically opposed groups would work together to run major metros.
A key part of any partnership would be for DA budget policies to be pro-poor, the City Press said.
This is how major metros stand in council seats, and how the coalitions could go:
  • Seats needed for majority: 108
  • DA seats: 93 (need 15)
  • ANC seats: 89 (need 19)
  • EFF seats: 25
  • VF Plus seats: 4
  • ACDP seats: 1
Expected outcome: DA and EFF coalition, where the DA gets mayorship with EFF support, and makes concessions in budget for EFF pro-poor policies.
  • Seats needed for majority: 136
  • ANC seats: 121 (need 15)
  • DA seats: 104 (need 32)
  • EFF seats: 30
  • IFP seats: 5
  • AIC seats: 4
  • VF Plus, ACDP, ALJAMA, UDM, COPE, PA seats: 6 (1 each)
Expected outcome: DA and EFF coalition, with EFF getting oversight posts in council committees. ANC is courting the IFP for support, and has already partnered with the AIC.
  • Seats needed for majority: 113
  • ANC seats: 109 (need 4)
  • DA seats: 77 (need 36)
  • EFF seats: 25
  • AIC seats: 4
  • IFP seats: 2
  • VF Plus seats: 2
  • ACDP, PAC, PA, COPE, IRASA seats: 5 (1 each)
Expected outcome: ANC has partnered with the AIC, with the IFP also said to be on board with the ruling party.
Nelson Mandela Bay
  • Seats needed for majority: 61
  • DA seats: 57 (need 4)
  • ANC seats: 50 (need 11)
  • EFF seats: 6
  • UDM seats: 2
  • AIC, UFEC, COPE, ACDP, PA seats: 5 (1 each)
Expected outcome: DA, with the UDM and other small parties to govern. Deal said to be close.
  • Seats needed for majority: 45
  • ANC seats: 43 (need 2)
  • EFF seats: 24 (need 21)
  • DA seats: 14
  • F4SD seats: 4
  • AIC, VF Plus, UDM, BCM seats: 4 (1 each)
Expected outcome: The EFF could win with DA support, though the ANC has a majority through partnerships in region. According to reports, the ANC has blundered negotiations and could lose out, however.
Turbulent times ahead
According to Attard Montalto, “it looks like things will go down to the wire into the end of this week”, with another market update likely to follow once the dust has settled.
However, the analyst warned that turbulent times could lie ahead.
“If no deal is reached, a messy process will begin of attempted grand coalition rule of all parties and eventually election re-runs,” he said.