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Faces of the City – Online event titled ”Covid-19 as a window into the governance of the Province of Gauteng” and “Understanding voting patterns in the 2021 local government elections in Gauteng”

May 3, 2022 @ 4:00 pm - 5:30 pm

Online event titled ‘Covid-19 as a window into the governance of the Province of Gauteng by Graeme Gotz and Philip Harrison & Understanding voting patterns in the 2021 local government elections in Gauteng by Thembani Mkhize  – Tuesday 03 May 2022, 16:00PM – 17:30PM (CAT).

Covid-19 as a window into the governance of the Province of Gauteng

With the Covid-19 pandemic, critical questions have surfaced around the capacity of the state to respond with agility to the crisis, and to use the crisis in a transformational way over the longer term. We have explored these questions are addressed in a comparative study of the State of Kerala in India and the Province of Gauteng in South Africa, together with Dr. Rob Moore, and colleagues from India, Professors Tathagata Chatterji and Souvanic Roy. In this presentation we focus on the Gauteng story, although with limited reference to Kerala. While both territories showed significant agility in response to the crisis, Kerala strengthened its capacities in a way that Gauteng did not, and this had significant implications for the abilities of these government to both manage the pandemic and leverage the pandemic for longer term benefit.

Understanding voting patterns in the 2021 local government elections in Gauteng
In the media, there have been numerous headlines portraying post-apartheid South Africa’s sixth municipal elections as the most disastrous elections – lowest voter turnout, highest loss of votes by main political parties – in post-democratic history. Indeed, the 2021 elections, especially on the surface, represent a dramatic shift in political sentiment, affiliations and identities in South Africa. A closer, more detailed look at voting patterns in South Africa (for instance, spatial analyses of voter distribution across space and a study of electoral trends over time) reveals more nuances to the issue than meets the eye. Using the case of Gauteng city-region – the smallest yet most populous and most diverse province in South Africa – the presentation is concerned with exploring the shift in political sentiments within Gauteng in the 2021 local government elections. It does so by analysing Proportional Representation (PR) votes won by each of the top political parties in Gauteng since 2011 as well as mapping the distribution of the PR votes in the 2016 and 2021 municipal polls using detailed dot density maps. I also focus on the spatial distribution of Gauteng’s registered voters who did not vote in the 2021 elections (registered non-voters) and attempt to provide an account of the low voter turnout in Gauteng. I do this by drawing on two recent surveys. The first is a telephonic survey aimed at unpacking the reasons for 2021’s low voter turnout in five of South Africa’s metropolitan municipalities. The second is the Gauteng City-Region Observatory’s (GCRO) Quality of Life Survey (QoL), which has been conducted every two years since 2009 and gives a unique perspective on changing political attitudes and perceptions in Gauteng. This data suggests that:

  • The 2021 elections can be better understood in the context of a longer trajectory of declining public trust in, and plummeting levels of satisfaction in, all three spheres of government;
  • In 2021, all dominant political parties saw no major gains at the expense of each other; rather, minority parties gained notably; and  
  • The biggest electoral success story in 2021 was ActionSA, a new political party that achieved substantial votes in suburban, township, informal and inner city areas. 

By way of conclusion, the presentation considers the future implications of the political shifts seen in the 2021 local elections. It briefly discusses the possible impact of the results on the future South African polity, particularly the prospects for social cohesion.

Speaker Biographies: 
Graeme Gotz is Director of Research Strategy at the Gauteng City-Region Observatory, where he works with a team of researchers to define and drive the research agenda of the GCRO. He previously worked at the Central Strategy Unit, Office of the Executive Mayor, at the City of Johannesburg; as a research consultant specialising in local government and urban development; as a member of staff at the Graduate School of Public & Development Management (P&DM) (now the Wits School of Governance), at the University of the Witwatersrand; and as a researcher at the Centre for Policy Studies (CPS). Graeme’s academic work focuses on city development and urban renewal, urban economic development, local government, government strategy, intergovernmental relations and state theory.
Philip Harrison is the South African Research Chair in Spatial Analysis and City Planning funded by the National Research Foundation and hosted by the University of the Witwatersrand. From 2006 to 2010 he was Executive Director in Development Planning and Urban Management at the City of Johannesburg. Prior to that, he held academic positions at the Universities of the Witwatersrand and Natal. He also served as a He served as a member of the National Planning Commission in the Office of the President from 2010 to 2015, participating in the formulation of the National Development Plan. He has published widely in the fields of city planning and regional and urban development. His most recent book publication is the jointly edited Densifying the City: Global Cases and Johannesburg

Thembani Mkhize holds three qualifications from the University of the Witwatersrand, Johannesburg – a BSc in Urban and Regional Planning, a BSc (with Honours) in Urban and Regional Planning and a(n) MSc in Town and Regional Planning (in the field of Urban Studies). With wide research interests such as urban branding, municipal re-demarcation, urban regeneration, community participation and social cohesion (as a buzzword, concept and a policy objective), Mkhize’s interests revolve around processes at work in cities as well as their implications for governance and urbanity. A researcher at the Gauteng City-Region Observatory (GCRO), Mkhize is currently leading a project on the politics and dynamics of street renaming in post-apartheid South Africa, with a focus on two Gauteng metropolitan municipalities (Pretoria/Tshwane and Johannesburg). The research touches on renaming motivations, processes, merits, shortcomings (including associated challenges), and implications for the urban and South African social fabric.
Zoom link: https://wits-za.zoom.us/j/93584078767?pwd=VThtaGxWODZpSUI0Ukg0enh5eFZzdz09 
Meeting ID: 935 8407 8767
Passcode: 797408


May 3, 2022
4:00 pm - 5:30 pm
Event Categories:


Virtual (Zoom)


University of the Witwatersrand
Centre for Urbanism and Built Environment (CUBES)
Gauteng City Region Observatory (GCRO)
Wits School of Architecture and Planning