Electioneering for the 1 November 2021 local government elections kicked into gear this weekend with the two largest opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance (DA) and Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), launching their manifestoes. The DA’s was virtual, while the EFF flouted coronavirus regulations, with over 500 attendees, in its newly launched headquarters, named after struggle stalwart Winnie Madikizela Mandela.
Both manifestoes focused on service delivery and promised to tackle the issue of land in housing, although in vastly different ways. The EFF promised a land audit, land redistribution at a local level and a wealth housing tax, while the DA conversely promised to collaborate with the private sector. The EFF also promised to formalise informal settlements, something which is already tacitly being implemented by the ANC.
The ANC was to launch its manifesto on Monday, setting the stage for what may be South Africa’s most competitive election yet. It does however need to be noted that manifestoes have become more aspirational, with many times policies remaining unfulfilled.
Speaking to Radio Islam International, Sanusha Naidu, senior research fellow at the Institute for Global Dialogue, noted the symbolic significance of the EFF’s headquarters being named after Winnie Mandela. She said, “I think that was quite a move on their part. They were waiting to do that. They … did it on their birthday as well, in a sense to say that you know what? We believe that she is the true leader, the mother to the nation.” Naidu also pointed out the fact that this was in a way also in light of Winnie’s sometimes tenuous relationship with the ANC, similar to Malema’s.
In relation to the actual manifesto, the EFF vowed land redistribution, combating corruption, and free services for indigent residents. They also vowed to empower black farmers and resolve the issue of public-school toilets, even though this falls under the prerogative of prudential government. The party also promised free electricity for certain municipalities, and to halt privatisation.
Significantly, as Naidu points out, they vowed some sort of code of conduct for officials “of municipalities where the EFF wins. Naidoo said,” they’re going to have this code of conduct. It may not have come out explicitly, but he [Malema] was actually kind of throwing on the punches to other political parties in particular, the ANC.”
The DA’s manifesto also focused on land and services, but in its normal ‘free market’ method. It vowed that 6 of the 27 municipalities it controls, mainly in the Western Cape, would be made ‘load-shedding proof’, through the municipalities direct procurement of electricity from independent producers. The DA also vowed to halt so called land invasions, something which would be difficult to implement. The party is also seeking the localisation of policing, a move that may be reminiscent of the apartheid system, mainly since more policing will likely be deployed to affluent areas. Further, the party vowed to root out corruption, citing municipalities run by the party as examples.
The ANC’s top 6 officials were to traverse the country in recent weeks to canvass support. The party’s issues are stark and were highlighted by the coverage provided to its treasurer general, Paul Mashatile, having providing money to church congregants in Limpopo.
The DA controls around 27 municipalities, with the relatively young EFF not as yet holding any. However, comprising the official opposition in many, the EFF was often touted as king-maker, but now wants to ascend to the position of king in some municipalities to establish a service delivery record.