The DA has had Ekurhuleni in its sights since 2014, but will it succeed?
The Ekurhuleni municipality is South Africa’s fourth-largest metro by population, according to Statistics South Africa’s 2011 census. In 2014 it was one of the country’s eight metros where the number of registered voters increased.
This year, the municipality has fewer registered voters than it had two years ago.
Between 2004 and 2014, voter registration increased in South Africa by 22.8%. In the eight metros alone, this was as high as 30.5%.
Today, Ekurhuleni is the fifth largest metro when it comes to voters – 1 520 553 – a decline from the 1 547 459 voters registered in 2014.
Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), ANC and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) posters are on street poles in the municipality’s townships, but the suburbs are streaked with Democratic Alliance blue.
After the 2014 elections the DA’s chief executive, Jonathan Moakes, told the Mail & Guardian the party had its eyes on Gauteng’s East Rand: “Johannesburg and Tshwane were traditionally more of a stronghold for the DA than Ekurhuleni.
But Ekurhuleni is now also an exciting prospect.”
Has that prospect become a reality?
In 2014, the ANC captured 55.07% of the provincial vote, the DA’s share of the vote remained largely unchanged at 29.05% and the National Freedom Party (NFP), the IFP and the African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) attained 0.84%, 0.91% and 0.66% of the vote respectively.
If the ANC captures the municipality, Ekurhuleni will welcome Mzwandile Masina as its new mayor. Some of his promises include:
- 100 000 houses built for the “entire people in Ekurhuleni” in five years;
- Tembisa clinics to be open 24 hours a day; and
- A higher education institution to be established in the metro.
Ekurhuleni is the country’s only metro with no tertiary education facility.
The metro’s employment rate is at 49%, 48.9% of its residents have completed matric or a higher qualification, and 77.7% have completed grade 9.
The median age of residents in the metro stands at 27. Some of these people may be first-time voters and for many of them the battle for jobs and improved service delivery will determine where their vote goes.
Since 2011, the Ekurhuleni metro has seen some successes when it comes to basic services.
According to the local government handbook, in the 2014-2015 financial year, the number of households with access to free basic water increased to 669 796 from 439 722 in 2011-2012.
And in the 2014-2015 financial year, 303 215 households had access to free basic electricity services, an increase from 212 804 in 2011-2012. The municipality borrowed more money in 2014-2015 (R971 607) financial year than in 2013-2014 (R838 118).
Rating agency Ratings Afrika found that the metro was more financially stable than many others in the country. It was rated South Africa’s third-most financially stable municipality, following Buffalo City in the Eastern Cape and the City of Cape Town in the Western Cape.
Despite the inroads made in the past five years, unemployment, insufficient housing and service delivery problems still plague many of the townships in the metro.
See our previous metro profiles at mg.co.za/metros