Cape Town – Focus has shifted to “hung councils” in the Western Cape where no political party has emerged as the outright winner in the local government elections.
With most of the votes counted, the big players in the province’s political arena are already dissecting which smaller party best suits them to team up with.
Coalition talks are already under way in the municipalities of Bitou in Plettenberg Bay, Knysna, Laingsburg, Prince Albert, Beaufort West, Witzenberg in Ceres, Hessequa in Riversdale, and Kannaland.
While behind the scenes horse-trading was initially in full swing in five local municipalities across the Western Cape, party representatives in several towns were locked in back room talks overnight.
DA provincial chairman Anton Bredell would not be drawn on coalition discussions but said: “We have exceeded our own expectations and while we did not get an outright majority in some municipalities, we will keep our options open.”
ANC provincial secretary Faiez Jacobs said the ANC was in negotiations with smaller parties and would continue talking to their historic coalition partners to explore renewed relationships.
The DA was initially confident that they won Knysna but when final results came in on Thursday night, it was clear that it too was a hung council.
DA insiders were confident the party had Witzenberg and Hessequa in the bag but did not want to go on record, saying that in politics things change every second.
The party’s rumour mill was, however, confident that the DA and Cope were ready to seal the deal in Witzenberg, while in Hessequa the DA is sweet-talking the Freedom Front Plus, who has one seat in the council, to break the deadlock between the ANC and DA, who each have eight seats.
The unexpected deadlock in Knysna is said to have taking the blue wave by surprise, but according to sources in the town, the DA was leaning towards an alliance with Cope, instead of the ACDP.
The ACDP’s Grant Haskin said his party did make gains in Knysna, which they were happy with. He hinted that rumours about DA and Cope talks were seemingly true.
In Bitou, a former DA stronghold, both the DA and the ANC got six seats making the Active United Front, with their one seat, the kingmaker.
Beaufort-West, a former ANC stronghold, was also hung with both the DA and ANC obtaining six seats and newcomers the Karoo Democratic Force emerging as the kingmaker.
In Laingsburg, the DA and ANC are neck-and-neck with three seats each, with the Karoo Ontwikkelings Party emerging as the tiebreaker.
Kannaland Municipality, which has been governed by an ICOSA/ANC alliance, once again saw Icosa walk off with the most support, securing three seats while the ANC and DA each have two seats.
ANC insiders suggested that the party was optimistic about the Beaufort West, Laingsburg and Prince Albert municipalities.