KwaZulu-Natal ANC premier Sihle Zikalala has called for a peaceful political transition after last week’s municipal elections, with some areas remaining volatile after the ruling party’s support plummeted to just over 41%, leaving 21 municipalities in the province without a majority vote.
“We live in a constitutional democracy, which is underpinned by the rule of law. The constitution envisages and demands that political transitions must always take place in a manner that is smooth, democratic and procedural,” Zikalala told the media on Monday.
He denounced “unpleasant scenes” during protests in the province in which some demonstrators had hurled insults at municipal officials, but also noted a decrease in incidents of political violence and intolerance during the run-up to the elections.
“It is indeed a sign of the maturing of our democratic order and a mark of social progress. This is certainly something that we need to build on and consolidate as we march forth as a country and the people of KwaZulu-Natal,” the premier said.
The Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) won 24.29% of the overall vote in the province, second to the ANC’s 41.4%.
The Mail & Guardian has reported how the incarceration in July of former president Jacob Zuma for contempt of court, and the resignation of health minister Zweli Mkhize over corruption allegations have been identified as possible reasons the party performed badly in KwaZulu-Natal, the home province of both men.
Statements about an attempted insurrection during the rioting triggered by the Zuma arrest and ethnic mobilisation also hurt the ANC in the province.
Responding to the outcome, Zikalala said “the people have spoken and declared that there should be no outright winner”.
“This is a clear message that they want political parties to work together, through the democratic process of co-governing KwaZulu-Natal,” he said.
All the relevant democratic processes to achieve a transition for councils were underway, Zikalala said, but acknowledged the challenges that may arise in the hung municipalities.
The Electoral Commission of South Africa declared the 2021 electoral results on Monday, giving parties 14 days to finalise coalitions by 23 November.