Election Posters

Hung councils and low voter turnout are the main features of the 2021 elections

Voter apathy and coalitions were what the pundits were predicting for the 2021 municipal elections held on 1 November, and that’s pretty much what South Africa got.

There are 40-million South Africans over the age of 18-years-old, but only 12-million voted. That’s a substantial drop from the 15-million who voted in the last municipal elections held in 2016. That year the voter turnout was 58%, this year it was 46%.

The interactive map below shows whether the voter turnout increased or decreased and also the hung municipalities, where no party won the majority of the seats on the council, so a coalition will need to be formed to govern the municipality.

Voter turnout increased in only five municipalities.


Seventy of the 213 municipalities had hung councils after the 2021 election, according to data on the Electoral Commission of South Africa’s (IEC’s) election dashboard.

This is more than double the 25 councils that were run by coalitions after the 2016 elections.

The ANC still controls the most municipalities. This year it won a majority of seats in 122 councils, but it has lost 45 of the 165 it governed after 2016. The Democratic Alliance controls 12 municipalities; it lost control of five. And the Inkatha Freedom Party controls nine, up from six.

Smaller parties such as the National Freedom Party (50 seats), the Patriotic Alliance (75 seats), and the Freedom Front Plus (220 seats) have made substantial gains. As has the Economic Freedom Fighters, who have added 221 more council seats to their total after this election. Even though the EFF doesn’t have outright control of any municipalities, the party will be an influential player in many coalitions.

Former DA mayor of Johannesburg Herman Mashaba’s new party, Action SA, did very well in its first elections, winning 90 seats. Forty-four of them are in the City of Johannesburg, making it the third-largest party on that metro council.

Two other municipal election newcomers, the African Transformation Movement, and former Cape Town mayor Patricia De Lille’s Good party won 49 and 44 council seats, respectively, putting them among the top-performing parties.