20 months of political risk in the metro municipalities

Our Political Risk Barometer is a real-time calculation of political risk in the eight metropolitan municipalities (‘metros’) from the latest local government election on 1 November 2021. Political risk is difficult to measure, particularly on a day-to-day basis, but we’ve created the Barometer as a tool to do just that. Our line chart race below, created with Flourish, is a visual representation of events in the eight metros since the start of the second year of the current administration (1 November 2022) until the end of March 2024.

‘Political risk’ refers to the stability, transparency, and effectiveness of the metro councils. Are councils stable or do coalitions collapse? Is there oversight and transparency? Is council time used to improve service delivery or to fight political battles?


Does the Barometer focus just on political risk?

It is very difficult to tease out the political risk from other threats to stability, such as financial health and service delivery. If coalitions become less stable or less transparent this will have a direct effect on the finances and service delivery in a metro, even if the effects are only felt weeks or months later. 

Our Barometer prioritises political risk but it includes financial and service delivery risk events too. Cape Town and Buffalo City metros have low political risk because they are run by one party (DA and ANC respectively), but both metros have seen deteriorating service delivery over the last two years and Buffalo City’s financial health has steadily declined.


How do you calculate political risk?

The Barometer measures political risk from 0 (no risk) to 10 (absolute collapse of government). A score between 0 and 4 is ‘low risk’, between 4 and 7 is ‘moderate risk’, and 7 to 10 is ‘high risk’. Mangaung was placed under administration in April 2022 and its score went straight to 10.

Political stability has been weak or deteriorated in the five metros with coalition governments (Johannesburg, Tshwane, Ekurhuleni, eThekwini, and Nelson Mandela Bay). Johannesburg and Ekurhuleni have seen a sharp increase in political risk over the last eight months as the relationship between the ANC and EFF continues to decline and the chance of their coalition dissolving increases.

17 months of politics in one visualisation

The line chart race below shows the daily changes in political risk from November 2022. An earlier version of the Barometer shows the risk scores from November 2021.



To read more about the events that affected the Barometer, please read our MetroMonitor reports: November 2021 – February 2022, March – June 2022, July – October 2022, November 2022 – January 2023, February – May 2023, June 2023, July 2023, August 2023, September 2023, October 2023, November 2023, December 2023 – January 2024, and February 2024

Written by Paul Berkowitz

March 28, 2024

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