New, small and community parties that will shape local government

Small parties got more votes this election. Over 1,200 council seats were won by candidates from smaller parties, compared with 500 after the 2016 poll.

By Gemma Gatticchi
Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Voting station in Mamelodi East, Tshwane. Photo: GCIS

More people chose to vote for candidates from smaller, often community-driven, parties in the November 1 municipal elections.

In the last election in 2016, candidates running for the big national political parties, the African National Congress, the Democratic Alliance (DA), the Economic Freedom Fighters or the Inkatha Freedom Party, won 94% of the votes. In this election that dropped to 86%.

What that means in terms of actual seats on local municipality councils is that there are now just over 1,220 seats filled by candidates from smaller parties, compared with 500 after the 2016 poll.

Both the ANC and the DA lost council seats this election. The ANC lost 614 and the DA lost 287, according to data obtained from the IEC’s dashboard after the results were announced on 4 November.

Just over 300 of those seats were picked up by the EFF and IFP, but the rest went to candidates from other parties.

In some municipalities, smaller, community-led parties took votes and therefore council seats from the former governing parties, resulting in hung councils, where no political party has an outright majority of seats.


In Gauteng, where eight of the nine municipalities now have hung councils, the biggest disruptor was newcomer party Action SA, founded by former DA mayor of Johannesburg Herman Mashaba. Action SA has 78 seats, 44 of which are on the City of Johannesburg council.

The Freedom Front Plus also grew in influence, it now has 53 council seats in the province compared with 15 in 2016.


In 2016 the ANC controlled 31 councils in KwaZulu-Natal, the IFP controlled nine, and four were hung. This election has brought big changes in the province. The ANC has lost its majority in 18 councils and now controls only 13 municipalities. The IFP still governs nine municipalities and the DA has won control of one, Umgeni, which includes the midlands towns of Howick and Hilton.

There are 21 hung councils. Among those councils, three parties stood out. 

In KwaDukuza, a municipality previously controlled by the ANC, Action SA and the Independent Alliance each won five council seats.

The Independent Alliance, which was officially launched in KwaDukuza in August 2021, is made up of five former ANC members, who stood as independent candidates in the 2016 municipal elections.

In Okhahlamba, which was also previously run by the ANC, the IFP won just enough votes to get nine seats on the council, the ANC won eight. The African People’s Movement (APEMO), a new party that split off from the National Freedom Party, got enough votes for six seats on the council.

Umvoti also went from an ANC majority to a hung council because of the support received by the Abantu Batho Congress (ABC, which won seven council seats. The ABC also won a seat in neighbouring uMsinga municipality and three seats in Nqutu municipality.

The ABC was formed in January 2020 by Philani Mavundla, Umvoti’s former ANC mayor.

Eastern Cape

The ANC kept control of 29 of the Eastern Cape’s 33 municipalities, the DA kept its majority in Kouga, but two previously ANC-governed municipalities, Kou-Kamma and Dr Beyers Naudé, are now hung.

Dr Beyers Naudé was a two-horse race in 2016 with just the ANC and DA winning council seats. But in 2021, three new parties have seats on the council: the EFF and Freedom Front Plus have one seat each, and Compatriots of South Africa, a party established in 2019 to represent the “brown” people in “forgotten communities” around South Africa, also won a seat.

In Makana municipality, the newly formed Makana Citizens Front won five seats on the council, giving it the same number of seats as the DA. The ANC still has the majority of seats.

In Ingquza Hill municipality, where the towns of Flagstaff and Lusikisiki are situated, the ANC won the majority of seats, but independent candidates won four wards and the Civic Independent party took two wards

A new party, called The Independents, which was launched in 2021 by local businessman Ken Clark, won five seats on the council of Enoch Mgijima municipality.

Free State

The ANC lost its majority in three of the Free State’s 19 municipalities. In 2016 Metsimaholo was the only council the ANC didn’t govern. This election Maluti-a-Phofung, Moqhaka, and Nala were added to the list of municipalities with hung councils.

In Maluti-a-Phofung, the MAP16 Civic Movement won nearly 30% of the votes. The party was formed by former ANC councillors who were expelled from the party in 2018. Some of them went on to stand as independent candidates in by-elections and won their wards.

MAP 16 has 20 seats on the council. The ANC has 28.

In Setsoto municipality, the Setsoto Service Delivery Forum is the official opposition. The SSDF, which describes itself on its Facebook page as a public community forum, not a political party, won eight seats on the council. The ANC remains the majority party.

Civic organisations gained seats in both Nala and Moqhaka municipal councils. The Nala Community Forum won 8% of the vote and two seats on the council and the Moqhaka Community Forum won 6% and two seats.


The ANC governs all but two of Limpopo’s 22 municipalities, Modimolle-Mookgophong and Thabazimbi. Those two municipal councils were hung after the 2016 elections and remained so after the 2021 poll.

In Thabazimbi municipality, a small local party, the Thabazimbi Residents Association (TRA), increased its votes from 8% in 2016 to 11% in 2021 and now holds three seats on the council.

Another municipality in which a small party received support from voters is Lepele-Nkumpi, where social democratic movement Defenders of the People (DOP), which was formed in 2020, won 6% of the votes in its first election. The DOP has four seats on the council.

In Maruleng municipality, independent candidates won 11% of the votes and two seats on the council and a small locally focussed party, the Civic Warriors, retained the three seats it won in the 2016 elections.


Three of Mpumalanga’s 17 municipalities had hung councils after the 1 November elections. In 2016 the ANC controlled all of them.

In Lekwa, one of the hung municipalities, a recently formed community organisation, Lekwa Community Forum, won six seats on the council in its first election, taking a bite out of the ANC’s votes.

In Steve Tshwete municipality, another community organisation, the Middleburg and Hendrina Residents Front (MHRF), won seven council seats, helping to prevent the ANC gaining a majority on the council. The MHRF comprises some former ANC members. The new party’s chairman is reportedly a former ANC mayor.

In Victor Khanye municipality the African Voice Progressive Party took three seats, the same number as the DA.

In Bushbuckridge municipality, the Independent South African National Civic Organisation (Isanco) won five seats. The organisation recently broke away from the South African National Civic Organisation. The Better Residents Association, formerly known as the Bushbuckridge Residents Association won only 2 seats. In the 2016 elections it had 14 seats.

North West

In 2016, Rustenburg was the only hung municipality in North West province, after the 1 November election there are now three – JB Marks, Lekwa-Teemane, and Rustenburg. The ANC won the majority in the remaining 15 municipal councils. 

The Forum 4 Service Delivery (F4SD), which was established in 2015, won 23 council seats in 12 municipalities in North West. It has five seats in Ramotshere Moiloa municipality and three in Ratlou, where it almost doubled its votes from 5% in 2016 to 10% in 2021.

The Tsogang Civic Movement won seven seats in Rustenburg’s council and two in Moses Kotane’s. Another civic movement, Save Madibeng, won three seats on the Madibeng municipal council.

The Azanian Independent Community Movement (AICM) won seats in four municipalities in the west of the province – two in Ganyesa, two in Greater Taung and one each in Naledi and Mamusa.

Northern Cape

New community-based parties did well in a number of Northern Cape municipalities in this election.

The optimistically named Hope for the Future, a new party won four seats in Kai !Garib in its first, beating the DA.

In Siyathemba municipality, the Siyathemba Community Movement, won nearly 40% of the votes, winning 5 council seats.

The Namakwa Civic Movement, which was started in February 2021, won four seats in Nama Khoi municipality, two in Khai-Ma and one each in Hantam and Kamiesberg.   

The Umsobomvu Residents Association won almost 30% of the votes in Usobomvu municipality, giving it four seats on the council, making it second to the ANC, which has seven seats.

In Sol Plaatje municipality, councillors from the Sol Plaatje Service Delivery Forum will be taking up seats on the council for the first time. The party won three seats.

The Kareeberg Civic Movement won two of the 11 seats on the Kareeberg municipal council, the same number of seats as the EFF and the DA.

The Gamagara Community Forum also has candidates on the Gamagara municipal council for the first time, The party won two seats.

Western Cape

The DA won the majority of votes in nine Western Cape municipalities. But the number of hung councils doubled from eight in 2016 to 16 in 2021.

In one of this year’s new hung municipalities, Cederberg, the Cederberg First Residents Association (Cederberg Eerste) won 28% of the votes and three council seats, pushing the DA, which was the majority party in 2016, into third place with two seats.

The Patriotic Alliance (PA) did well in Prince Albert and Beaufort West. Both municipalities had hung councils in 2016 and again in 2021, but this year the PA came from nowhere to win 14% of the votes in Prince Albert and 22% in Beaufort West.

In Prince Albert the Karoo Gemeenskap Party (KGP), which was formed in 2010, retained the two seats it had in 2016.

The Knysna Independent Movement (KIM) won two seats on the Knysna council with 8% of the vote in its first election. The PA also won two seats with 7% of the votes.

The Land Party, which was formed in 2019, collected 8% of the votes and two council seats in the Overstrand municipality in its first election.

With so many smaller parties making gains all over the country, it will be interesting to see what role they will play in the coalitions that will govern the municipalities.