IEC launches 2016 municipal elections

JANUARY 14, 2016

The Electoral Commission of SA will officially launch the 2016 Municipal Elections at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand while observers expect the Nelson Mandela Bay Metropolitan Municipality to be among the hotly contested municipalities when voting begins.

In the 2014 General Elections, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) received 48% of the vote in Nelson Mandela Bay while the main opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA), received 42% of the vote.

The DA has not hidden its intensions to unseat the ANC, which currently enjoys a slight majority in council - at 62 out of the 120 seats available

Conversely, the ANC is determined to hold onto the Metro as defeat here might open the rest of the Eastern Cape to a DA takeover.

The ANC last year sacked the Executive Mayor, Ben Fihla, and brought in renowned administrator and SAFA boss, Danny Jordaan, to turnaround the Metro and restore voter confidence in the party. 

There are other smaller parties, the United Democratic Movement (UDM) and the Congress of the People (COPE), which could tip the battle in any direction if they were to join a coalition.

Newcomers, the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) last year made their presence felt in the Bay by defacing public monuments in Uitenhage and Port Elizabeth. Their Commander in Chief (CIC), Julius Malema, also visited the Bay and took shots at his former party, the ANC.

They, however, understandably, do not as yet have proper structures in the Metro excepet for a student command at the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) where they contested in the Student Representative Council (SRC) elections last year.

It is not known if they will contest the elections as a party or enter into a coalition with the DA or the smaller parties.

On Thursday, IEC chairperson Vuma Mashinini was expected to unveil the communications campaign for the upcoming elections, which were aimed at encouraging voter participation especially among young and first-time voters.

The campaign included plans for a nationwide voter registration weekend which would be held in March.

Members of the IEC would also be present at the launch discuss preparations for the Municipal Elections, scheduled to take place between May and August. 
While the winner will be decided at the polls, one prominent political analyst has observed that the ANC was vulnerable in the Bay.