The most competitive local government elections since the dawn of democracy in South Africa have come to an end.
The sands have shifted, foundations have been shaken and once more we are facing new territory.
Clearly the ANC has suffered a massive blow. At the same time both the DA and the EFF made significant gains in voter support.
Even the IFP has managed to regain lost ground in KwaZulu-Natal, taking the president’s backyard, Nkandla.
All in all, the opposition parties have done well this election.
However, this political shift has introduced a challenge into South Africa’s body politic. That challenge is the necessity which has emerged for political parties to form coalitions.
Once again there is a glaring need for those skills which South Africa was once famous for, negotiation and co-operation.
So as we stand today, we stand at a possible new beginning. We have reached another a fork in the road.
It is either we take the road to co-operative politics through genuine coalitions, where service to South Africa and its vastly different people is paramount again, or we go further in our current antagonistic politics, where parties seek dominance and try to outsmart each other.
If we take the road towards genuine coalitions and co-operative politics, it is possible that the result will be honest service towards the people of South Africa.
For this co-operation to work, it must be co-operation towards the common goal of genuine quality service to the people of South Africa and nothing else.
I am optimistic that the coalitions which will come out will be for no other reason than this. What this election has shown us, is people have started to vote with their heads more than with their hearts. South Africans have started voting for parties which promise expertise in management rather than parties which promise to satisfy sentimental feelings about the past.
However, if we take the road towards the path which has been set by the ANC, that of aggressive competition and party dominance, then local government will suffer. It will be impossible for political parties to reach workable agreements.
Infighting will be the order of the day and the provision of meaningful service to the people of South Africa will fail.
The citizens of the country also face a challenge, that of active participation and common purpose. The active participation which has been somewhat inspired by these elections must be continued if we are to hold political parties to account.
What I like about the opposition parties is that they have no other redeeming qualities than their ability to deliver quality services to all South Africans. Unlike the ruling party which leans heavily on sentiment attached to its central role in the liberation struggle, these other parties can only redeem themselves through consistent and meaningful service. So, the people of South Africa should not just wait for another election before they hold councilors and their parties to account. Issues must be raised and solutions suggested. It is in response to these issues that citizens will be able to assess the ongoing performance of the opposition parties which won.
The ANC must get the same treatment going forward.
The results of these elections have restored my faith in the people of South Africa. It is evident that they are awake.
It is evident that they do not approve of the arrogance which has been displayed by the ruling party for so long. The deliberate defiance and failure to uphold our constitution by the president and the collusion of a parliament dominated by the ruling party in that failure has not gone unnoticed.
Whether the ANC deals with Jacob Zuma or not, whether it deals with corruption or not, may not matter much longer.
It looks like the citizens of South Africa themselves have South Africa’s interests at heart.