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SA faces uncertainty as parties scramble to form coalitions

Parties will be trying to woo each other into tactical marriages of convenience, dangling the bait of power.

ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe shares a moment with FFPlus leader Pieter Mulder, Piet Croukamp and COPE’s MP Willie Madisha. Picture: Christa Eybers/EWN.

CAPE TOWN - South Africa faces an uncertain two weeks as parties get down to the horse-trading necessary to form governments in four of the country's eight metros and at least 23 smaller councils.

Neither the African National Congress nor the Democratic Alliance won an outright majority in the key cities of Johannesburg, Tshwane, Nelson Mandela Bay and Ekurhuleni.

There are hung councils in the Western Cape, Eastern Cape, KwaZulu-Natal, Limpopo and North West.

Parties have 14 days to hammer out agreements with smaller parties before council meetings are convened to elect mayors, their deputies and Speakers and members of mayoral or executive committees.

Parties will be trying to woo each other into tactical marriages of convenience, dangling the bait of power and positions.

Local government expert Professor Jaap de Visser says coalition-building happens mainly behind closed doors.

"I think it was [Otto von] Bismarck who said coalitions are like German sausages - you don't actually want to know how they are made."

De Visser says while it's possible under the law for a party with the most vote s to rule without coalition partners, this can lead to instability and affect service delivery.

COUNCILLORS HAVE TO ABIDE BY CONSTITUTION

Meanwhile, Cooperative Governance Minister Des Van Rooyen said new mayors and councillors who will be appointed within the next 14 days have a duty to act within the Constitutional parameters, rules and regulations applicable to local government.

Van Rooyen was speaking in Pretoria during a briefing by the inter-ministerial committee on elections.

Yesterday, the Independent Electoral Commission officially announced the end of the 2016 local government elections which will see four of the country's eight metros run through coalition governments.

The minister said his department will inform councillors of their roles and responsibilities.

He said it will also be a strong support system for the incoming officials.

Van Rooyen said outgoing and incoming officials have a responsibility to ensure a smooth transition and that municipalities function optimally.