South African Municipal Elections
Rev. Gabarone P. Lesito
19th Episcopal District
It’s been nearly a month since the many millions of South Africans made it to the polls on August 3rd to elect public officials for local government. While almost every speculator and analyst guessed it right that these would be the most contested elections since 1994, it was actually more than what most had bargained for.
For some parties, campaigning commenced almost a year ago while others came in very late, some went all out to spend money while others took to social media. All tricks and tactics were used to gain even the last vote there was. The results were however not so reflective of what preceded the campaigning period.
The AME Church and various Christian denominations held a prayer services country-wide to implore God to deliver a peaceful election in the country. Hundreds of journalists descended to this south part of Africa, observers from the United Nations, the African Union, independent non-government institutions and many others came in droves to witness this awesome event in this fledgling democracy. As they packed and left the country, all of them could only sing from the same hymn sheet, “These elections were Free and Fair”.
As the final official results were announced and presented to President Jacob Zuma on Saturday 6th August at 6pm as planned, South Africans sat at the tip of their chairs to enjoy the fruits of what our liberation icons fought for. Many new independent candidates took part in unprecedented high volumes, smaller parties made some visible strides this time around, opposition parties have fortified and improved their hold while the ruling party continues to enjoy the majority support from voters. For the first time in the short history of South African elections citizens and political parties alike speak about hung municipalities and forming coalitions. The Constitution of South Africa is hailed as one of the best and progressive in the world, this was indeed tested with this election.
As many local and district municipalities have already gone down to business to render those much needed community services, some Metropolitan municipalities are still negotiating how they will run a government through coalitions where there is no outright winner with a 51% majority. This coalition process needs to be concluded within 14 days from the announcement of official results. South Africans are awaiting with excitement and apprehension, the rolling out of a new era in local government.
South Africa has once again proven itself to the world that as a young democracy we have been able to deliver free and fair elections yet again. The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) of South Africa not only runs elections in South Africa but is trusted to do the same for a few other states in Africa.
The next National elections will be held in 2019. We continue to pray that those too will be a marvel not only to South Africa and Africa as a whole but also to the world.