It hardly feels like an election year, with the Covid-19 pandemic overwhelming public and private life, but it is — and a critical one at that. The last local government election, in 2016, marked a turning point for the ANC, as the revolt against then-president Jacob Zuma gained momentum.

The ANC lost three of SA’s eight metros — Joburg, Tshwane and Nelson Mandela Bay. Despite regaining control of Joburg (and despite the DA’s messy tenure in Nelson Mandela Bay and Tshwane) the losses marked a significant psychological shift away from the ANC...

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