“If we are to make this a new and better era, we, as leaders, must put aside our differences and work together in the spirit of partnership, co-operation, collaboration and common purpose in the people of SA.”
So said President Cyril Ramaphosa, speaking during the official announcement of the final 2021 municipal election results in Pretoria on Thursday evening.
Ramaphosa’s comments signalled the direction in which South African politics was going, with more coalitions forming. In total, 30% of the country’s councils had no outright winner.
The election was contested by a record 325 political parties and nearly 95,000 candidates, of whom more than 1,500 ran as independents.
Announcing the official results, IEC chair Glen Mashinini said the ANC achieved a majority in 161 of SA’s 213 municipalities, while the DA achieved a majority in 13 and the IFP achieving a majority in 10.
There was no outright winner in 66 municipalities.
Ramaphosa said local government must be used as “a force for good for development and for progress”.
“At the end of the day, we all want the same thing: to better the lives of the South African people. We need to strengthen the trust between citizens and elected representatives through competence, integrity, performance and delivery. Public representatives need to be more visible and active in our communities,” he said.
Ramaphosa said leaders “need to focus on implementation and make the people partners in development”.
“Above all, they need to listen to the communities they serve. I want to thank all those people who have contributed to the success of the 2021 local government election,” the president said.
Ramaphosa thanked the 12-million South Africans who cast their ballots on Monday, saying: “By performing this important civic duty you have contributed to strengthening and consolidating democracy. I want to congratulate all South Africans for holding an election that was peaceful, free and fair. The people have spoken.”
To the incoming councillors, he said: “Now you need to get down to work.”
Ramaphosa said that during the elections, South Africans told various political parties about their “leaking houses, of frustration at electricity cuts, of feeling unsafe because of crime, and of being despondent after years of not working”.
“At the same time many have told us about the good work that municipalities — supported by dedicated councillors — are doing in their communities. They have told us of infrastructure that has been built in the poorest areas and of essential services that are being delivered,” he said.
Ramaphosa said South Africans also gave the political parties advice on how they could do better.
“Listening to them I was reminded how important it is that those in positions of responsibility enjoy the confidence of the South African people. They want their lives improved. They want better services.”
People want their representatives to be responsive and accountable, said Ramaphosa.
“They want to live in a better SA with equal opportunity, where their rights are realised, and where they are treated with dignity and respect.”
He thanked all those responsible for making the elections a success including the electoral commission and its staff, the police, army, home affairs as well as the political parties and candidates “who stood in this election for their conduct, their discipline and their commitment to the people”.
“We owe it to the millions of South Africans who voted in this election to bring about the change they are asking for. Let us turn the promises that we made on the campaign trail into reality,” said Ramaphosa.