The Johannesburg Metropolitan Council today elected Herman Mashaba as its Executive Mayor, making him the first openly libertarian mayor of a large South African city since the 1994 democratic election. The City of Johannesburg Metropolitan Municipality had a population of over 4.4 million in the 2011 census, with the Greater Johannesburg Area having a population of nearly 8 million.
Mashaba is the former Chairman of the Free Market Foundation of Southern Africa’s board of directors, as well as the author of Capitalist Crusader: Fighting Poverty Through Economic Growth. In the foreword to the book Yuri Maltsev of the Ludwig von Mises Institute writes:
Mashaba dissects South African economic, social and political problems and reveals their interdependence. In so doing, he provides a very attractive alternative to the economic and social crisis that we face today: a free society based on constitutional liberties, the rule of law, property rights and other human rights, freedom of exchange, and freedom of association. And it is this agenda that will unite rather than divide South Africans, no matter what their background, race, ethnicity or social position.
The 2016 municipal elections were held across South Africa in early August, leading to the ruling socialist African National Congress losing three major cities: Port Elizabeth, Pretoria (the executive capital of South Africa), and now, crucially, Johannesburg – which is the economic hub of the entire region. The Official Opposition in South Africa, the broadly centrist and pro-market Democratic Alliance, now controls these cities in various coalition arrangements.
The new Executive Mayor of Pretoria, Solly Msimanga, also of the Democratic Alliance, has also espoused some libertarian views, calling for the privatization of South Africa’s state-owned enterprises and the strengthening of property rights, rather than state-centric land grabs, as a solution to poverty.
The Democratic Alliance’s gains are unprecedented in South African history, as the African National Congress has held a virtually-absolute grip on all three of South Africa’s political divisions since Apartheid ended in 1994.