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What the 2016 municipal elections will be remembered for

Commentary on what will be memorable about the 2016 local government elections and the driving narratives which will be married to these polls seem to continue to vary among political analysts.

This, from Vuwani’s boycott of the municipal elections, to the Democratic Alliance’s controversial decision to ‘expropriate’ the Nelson Mandela legacy, councillor candidates, political killings in the KwaZulu-Natal, varying opinion polls, among many other issues that these elections will be remembered for.

Speaking to SABC Digital News at the IEC Results Operations Centre in Pretoria, Political Analyst Zamikhaya Maseti, has criticised what he terms the ‘expropriation act of political figures’ by opposition parties, mentioning as an example the DA’s controversial decision to use ‘Madiba’s dream’ in their elections campaigning.

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Independent analyst, Joe Mavuso, says these municipal elections serve test the electorate’s confident in the ANC which was voted back into power in 2014.

Mavuso says, “The 2016 local government elections are so much focused on the national parliament shenanigans issues and that wrote the narrative for the elections. As such, these elections are the most contested because they serve as the litmus test for the national elections in two years’ time. The outcomes will be indicative as to the nation still has confidence in the majority party for being seen to be reluctant to recuse the party and government president as seen in parliament before it closed the session.”

Mavuso says while the narrative for the current elections was supposed to be on local issues, the focus seems to be more on national issues.

“This elections narrative is lost to the national narrative. The local narrative was supposed to be first and foremost about service delivery progress report, the national sluggish economy that impact negatively on the local economy and thus affected job creation. Good governance, that seems eluded public participation at local level and for that we observed a gap created between locals and their 2011 elected councillors. The question is how this time around are we going to work together – community and elected councillors – and how in particular the community is not going to let go their power of governance? If the ANC win majority in these elections it will show that the people still have faith in them. However, if not it is a clear indication that it’s back to the drawing board for the ANC.”

Political analyst Dumisani Hlophe has reiterated Zamikhaya Maseti’s sentiments, also accusing the DA of ‘deliberate selected amnesia’ and disowning its ‘white heritage.’

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Meanwhile, Mcebisi Ndletyana says the upcoming elections will give everyone an opportunity to judge the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) among many other issues that have characterised the 2016 local government elections.

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The 2011 local government elections were marred by what had commonly been known as the “toilet saga” which saw the governing party ANC and its official opposition DA, at the centre of a controversial stench.

A November 2011 court ruling ordered the City of Cape Town to re-install and enclose the toilets in the DA-run Makhaza Local Municipality in the Western Cape.

Coincidently, the ANC found itself in a rut, guilty of a similar offence in the Free State just 24hours before the country took to the polls for the municipal elections. As a result, matters on decent service delivery of toilets and the engagement of communities took centre stage which saw both the ANC and DA pay increasingly more attention to sanitation concerns.

However, more recently ahead of the 2016’s elections the narrative has since shifted from the act of service delivery and the scrutiny thereof to rather a spike in protests by communities over a preferred leader. People seem to be more concerned about being led by a councillor whom they identify with. Grievances due to the neglect of extensive involvement in the process of selecting a councillor seem to have dominated talks, not only in the social media space but also among potential voters.

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