Before Johannesburg’s DA mayor, Herman Mashaba, could cut the ribbon at the opening of a R22m clinic in Alexandra in February, protesters — some wearing ANC T-shirts — burnt tyres and blockaded roads. What should have been a celebratory event for the community turned into a disaster. In Nelson Mandela Bay in the Eastern Cape, United Democratic Movement (UDM) deputy mayor Mongameli Bobani and his colleague Thoko Tshangela, who hold the balance of power between the ANC and the DA, are able to collapse a council meeting by not arriving — because they disagreed with DA mayor Athol Trollip. In Tshwane, run by DA mayor Solly Msimanga, council sittings have been disrupted by ANC members, now sitting in the opposition benches, with some meetings turning violent. This is the new politics of coalition governments in which political actors have had to manoeuvre since the August 2016 local government elections, when the DA took control of four metro councils. The DA has signed coalition agreeme...

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