The quality of drinking water in Hammanskraal is likely to be a determining factor when residents in the area cast their votes on Monday. Picture: SHONISANI TSHIKALANGE
The quality of drinking water in Hammanskraal is likely to be a determining factor when residents in the area cast their votes on Monday. Picture: SHONISANI TSHIKALANGE

The water crisis in Tshwane and electricity issues in Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni will become determining factors today when Gauteng residents head to polling stations.

When Hammanskraal residents wake up this morning and prepare to travel to polling stations to cast their votes, they will be thinking about the water laced with faecal matter they have been drinking over the years.

In Soshanguve, they will be thinking about the times they ran after a tanker for a bucket of water, and the time spent in queues to get water to cook and drink when their taps ran dry.

These are some of the service delivery failures Tshwane residents will be considering as they cast their votes on Monday.

They will also be thinking about how the DA-led municipality failed to deliver services because council sittings ground to a halt over political differences.

The intermittent power supply and water cuts in Johannesburg’s suburbs and townships will be a major issue in these elections. Soweto and Orange Farm residents have had to endure continuous dark nights due to Eskom cutting power supply after many failed to settle their electricity bills.

In Ekurhuleni, residents in Kempton Park will be thinking about the unsafe streets and drugs trade that have become synonymous with the area, while those in the Ramaphosa informal settlement will be looking at their daily situation of joblessness and poverty.

According to political analyst Ralph Mathekga, South Africans are now feeling the direct impact of poor service delivery and they will, this time, use their votes to voice their concerns.

“Some of the problems are long-standing, but the awareness about these things is what is different. The political order is different. There is more awareness today of corruption,” he said.

Bad decisions

“The problems have been there, but people can relate to them now. People are economically under pressure from the Covid-19 pandemic. Jobs have been lost and power supply has been cut.”

“Previously bad decisions by government did not always directly affect people’s lives, but it’s direct and people are beginning to understand that.

“That on its own can result in a situation where problems that existed tend to have more impact today than they did in the past, simply because there’s more awareness about how they impact people’s lives.”

He said voters don’t necessarily use their ballots to punish the governing parties in their municipalities.

“Voting is a very complex process. People cannot go there to say ‘I want to punish a party’. People look for realistic alternatives — ‘There’s party B. Can it really win an election? No, so I’m not going to bother’.”

Tshwane is likely to continue being a hung municipality, Mathekga said, with the ANC edging ahead of the DA, which has been governing the metro since 2016.

“I see Tshwane continuing to be a hung municipality, I don’t think any party is going to get an outright majority because no-one has been able to do something interesting in Tshwane since the last election,” he said.

Negative statements

It would require a lot of explaining should, for instance, the ANC win the city with an outright majority because it has not done anything major to claw the city back, though it deployed a lot of resources in Tshwane during its election campaign.

“Against that backdrop I don’t expect anything to change drastically in Tshwane. I expect the situation to be where it is with a slight deterioration,” he said. “The ANC has a chance and the DA tends to upset many parties. It has angered many small parties going into these elections. They made negative campaign statements and they are going to need those parties for coalitions. It’s going to be very difficult for them to govern.

“The ANC stands a good chance through coalitions. If the DA has to do it, it will have to be a coalition of parties and it will be very unstable and difficult to manage,” Mathekga said.

The ANC in Ekurhuleni seems poised to retain control of the city as it seems more stable there, he said.

He said Johannesburg is proving to be a headache for the DA and ANC.

“Johannesburg is a problem and there is an unknown factor there. [ActionSA leader] Herman Mashaba is quite popular in Johannesburg and he will trouble the DA and ANC.

“Winning is not easy but I think it’s an area where Mashaba stands a chance for a presence, and that will be at the expense of the DA and the ANC,” Mathekga said.

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