Ramaphosa urges political leaders to work together as coalition talks begin

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa asked political leaders on Thursday to put aside their differences “in a spirit of partnership” as coalition talks get underway after this week’s local government elections resulted in a record 66 hung municipalities.

The governing ANC garnered the most support, but saw its national share of the votes fall to less than 50%.

Of the 213 municipalities that parties contested, the ANC achieved a majority in 161, followed by the Democratic Alliance with 13, and the Inkatha Freedom Party won 10, the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) said as it announced the final results.

IEC chairperson Glen Mashinini said 12.3-million people had gone to the polls on Monday or participated in a special vote the previous weekend. 

Mashinini gave a national overview of the election results, highlighting the  outcomes for the top three parties — the ANC, the DA and the Economic Freedom Fighters.

In Buffalo City the ANC retained its majority position with 59.3% of the vote,  followed by the DA with 19.52% and the EFF with 12.6%. 

The DA, in turn, held on to its majority in the City of Cape Town, where it received 58.2% of the vote, compared to 18.63% and 4.13% for the ANC and EFF, respectively.

Herman Mashaba’s ActionSA received an overall 16.05% for third position in Johannesburg, where the ANC received the most support with 33.6% ahead of the DA’s 26.47%. 

In the Free State’s Mangaung municipality the ANC received 50.63% of the votes, while the DA came in second with 25.73%, and the EFF followed with 11.31%. 

Despite a marked reduction in support for the governing party, Ramaphosa described this year’s election as “another milestone in the advancement of our democracy”.

“This local government election was conducted and contested by a record 325 political parties and nearly 95 000 candidates, of whom over 1 500 were independent candidates,” he said, welcoming this as a sign that “multi-party politics is flourishing” in South Africa. 

“This enriches our democracy and in many ways … It affirms that we are a diverse and tolerant society. It affirms the principle that leaders must be chosen by the people and that [they] should also be accountable to the people who choose them,” Ramaphosa said. 

He said the pre-election campaign period had made clear that South Africans “want their lives improved. They want better services; they want their representatives to be responsive and also to be accountable.”

“Local government must be a force for development and progress,” said Ramaphosa. 

Municipalities in which no party managed to garner a majority are expected to enter coalition talks in the coming days.

Ramaphosa reiterated that the parties must work together, “because the manner in which our people spoke should be indicative of their will and wish to have us as leaders working together”.

“If we are to make this a new and better era, we, as leaders, must put aside our differences and work together in a spirit of partnership, co-operation and common purpose,” he added.

Ramaphosa urged newly elected councillors to “turn the promises made on the campaign trail into reality. Let us work as one for a South Africa of equality, freedom and shared prosperity.”

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Eunice Stoltz
Eunice Stoltz is a general news reporter at the Mail & Guardian.

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