As the tally of the local government elections in KwaZulu-Natal was being finalised, it was highly likely that the wheeling and dealing over potential coalitions was already under way in a number of municipalities.
In 2011, the National Freedom Party (NFP), which broke away from the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), entered into a deal with the African National Congress, and was the left in control of 20 municipalities.
However, the NFP failed to pay its registration fees and, apart from the municipality of Nquthu where NFP candidates had paid the fees themselves, it could not compete in the 2016 elections.
This has contributed to the IFP rebounding in its former strongholds. This, together with the surprising performance of the Democratic Alliance and the emergence of the Economic Freedom Fighters could see coalitions being formed to deprive the ANC of many of the municipalities where it had been in control.
In the far northern municipality of Jozini, where the ANC had governed with the NFP previously, the IFP could emerge as the dominant party with both the EFF and the DA being the kingmakers. The ANC has 19 seats to the IFP’s 18, but the EFF, the DA and an independent candidate each have a seat.
In Mtubatuba the ANC and the IFP are tied on 18 seats each. The DA with two seats, the EFF and the African Independent Congress are all in the mix to decide which of the two big parties will rule. In 2011 it was an ANC-NFP coalition that kept the IFP out.
Abaqulusi (Vryheid area), the IFP has an opportunity to return to power with the help of the DA. The ANC previously ran the municipality with the NFP, but the DA’s three votes this time round could be key to the IFP’s ambitions.
The IFP has 19 seats to the 21 of the ANC. The EFF with its lone seat could also play a critical role in a municipality that has very little water in its dams because of the ongoing drought.
The one municipality where the DA benefited from the NFP’s failure to participate in the local government elections was in eDumbe (Paulpieterburg).
In 2011 the NFP was the largest party. The DA managed to pick up five seats to the eight of the ANC. But the IFP has picked up three seats and if the IFP and DA agree to a coalition, which will tie the municipality, it will be the toss of a coin that decides who governs.
If the coin toss goes the way of the DA-led coalition, the municipality will be the first in the province to be governed by the DA.
In Endumeni (Dundee), which was previously governed by an ANC-NFP coalition, the IFP will have to work with both the DA and the EFF to take control. The ANC has six seats and the DA’s two seats are insufficient.
In the municipality of Estcourt/Loskop there could again be some serious bargaining under way where the IFP will have to have not only the DA and the EFF on board, but also the Al Jama party to simply tie with the ANC. The ANC has 23 seats and the IFP 18; the DA two seats, Al Jama two and the EFF one.
In 2011 the municipality did not exist. It was formed by merging the Umtshezi and Imbabazane local municipalities – one of which prior to the elections was ruled by an ANC-NFP coalition.
But not all the horse trading in the province will be aimed at keeping the ANC out. In Nquthu, where the NFP members paid their own registration fees and were able to field candidates, it holds the balance of power with its two seats.
The ANC, together with the NFP, could again govern in this municipality to give them a one-seat advantage over the IFP, which has 14 seats.
It will not be a very long wait to see what comes of the wheeling and dealing as well as a potential coint toss or two.
– African News Agency (ANA)