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Elections 2021: It’s time for political parties to deliver because we need a stable municipal government

South Africa - Cape Town - 01-November-2021 Voting underway in Cosovo Informal Settlement in Samora Machel. Voters across the country are heading to their local polling stations to cast their votes in the 2021 municipal elections. Photographer Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency(ANA)

South Africa - Cape Town - 01-November-2021 Voting underway in Cosovo Informal Settlement in Samora Machel. Voters across the country are heading to their local polling stations to cast their votes in the 2021 municipal elections. Photographer Ayanda Ndamane African News Agency(ANA)

Published Nov 6, 2021

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Johannesburg - This weekend will be a crunch time for the country – and for the major political parties because, with the exception of Cape Town and Mangaung, no one has enough support from Monday this week to form a municipal government off their own bat.

The fact that our political landscape has changed so dramatically with the myriad permutations of coalitions that could emerge is a factor that fascinates political pundits. For the rest of us, who actually live in the wards and bear the brunt of water and electricity disruptions, potholes and underfunded emergency services, it’s a potential nightmare.

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Johannesburg still doesn’t have nearly enough fire engines. The inner city is a cesspit. The infrastructure that we do have is old and in dire need of maintenance, while we have a huge need for new infrastructure in areas which are severely under-serviced.

None of this can happen without a stable municipal government with a commitment to serving the people of this city. A coalition is the only solution, but with who? Five years ago, a coalition of wholly unlikely bedfellows was stitched together in a desperate grasp for the mayoral chain.

We all know how that it ended.

This time we are faced with a sense of déjà vu, but it needn’t be that way at all. This has to be the inflection point in Africa’s financial capital. We need parties who can and want to work together in a coalition that serves us – not their narrow political or personal agendas.

If this week has taught any of us anything, especially the level of popular disenchantment with politicians and their parties, it is that the entire future of the so-called democratic project rests on parties actually starting to serve the interests of the people.

If they don’t, they might not get another chance. But maybe neither will we.

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