Who are the candidates who want your vote in local government elections 2021?

With less than a week to go to the November 1 municipal elections, do you know who is standing in your ward? Are you one of those people who just votes for a party, so it doesn’t matter who the ward candidate is?

There are over 94,000 entries on this year’s candidate list. Who are all these people?

Well, if you want to find out who is contesting in your ward, a good place to start is Open Cities Lab’s easy-to-use tool: My Candidate (with work/contributions from Open Up and Paul Berkowitz).

But, you may find that you’re left with many more questions, like, why is there a person contesting my ward and more than 100 others?

We filtered the candidates list down to 53,400 individuals and found that most of them (68% or 36,000) are standing in only one ward. Another 31% (or 16,600) are standing in between two and nine wards, and 486 are standing in between 10 and 19 wards.

The rest, who are running in 20 or more wards, are shown in the chart below. Eight people are standing in more than 100 wards – none of them are in the ANC, DA or EFF, in case you were wondering.

Why do candidates run in multiple wards? It’s all about proportional representation.

Jodi Allemeir explained this phenomenon in an article originally published on Medium for Open Cities Lab. She’s kindly allowed us to use an excerpt:

In Metropolitan Municipalities, Council is made up of two types of councillors. These are:

a) Ward Councillors

b) Proportional Representation Councillors (also known as PR Councillors).

Ward Councillors

Ward Councillors are elected by the residents living in the ward on a “winner takes all” basis. This means that the Councillor with the most votes wins the seat. Candidates don’t need to belong to a political party to run to be the Ward Councillor. This is why you will see “independent candidates” running in your ward, and why on your ward ballot, you vote for a person by their name, not their party.

Anybody can register and appear on the ballot as an Independent candidate.

However, due to the way in which Proportional Representation is counted … some candidates belonging to political parties will run in several wards — the purpose of this strategy is to gain votes for their party to gain more proportional representation seats in Council…

So, Jodi goes on to explain:

…Your ward vote is used to determine your ward councillor, and if you vote for a councillor who also belongs to a party, that gets added to a party vote towards proportional representation, too (unless the candidate has won the ward, in which case the votes are not added to the PR calculation as that party has already won a full seat in council for those votes).

That is why some members of parties stand for ward councillor in several wards. They have no intention of winning or serving in those wards — they’re just collecting all those extra points running through the maze of lost voters (or voters wise to the game, and donating their ward vote to the PR tally of the party they believe will best represent them on policy issues).

Read the Jodi’s full article, How Your Vote Counts, here.

Younger candidates

The candidates running this year are a relatively young crowd – about 60% are in their thirties or forties. Interestingly, even though fewer people in their 20s have registered to vote in these municipal elections, it seems that more of the candidates running for election are in their 20s (5,472) compared with 2016 (4,837). 

The Economic Freedom Fighters are fielding the most candidates under age 30 (670), followed by the African Transformation Movement (651), the Democratic Alliance (378) and the ANC (331).

If you get elected, being a councillor is a relatively well-paid gig. According to the Government Gazette, a part-time councillor (PDF) can earn R247,360 to R525,904 a year (including pension and medical aid).

We don’t how many women are on the candidates list because the ID numbers were redacted.


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