The African National Congress (ANC), Democratic Alliance (DA) and Congress of the People (Cope) were locked in top level meetings on Monday to mull coalition pacts in municipalities where the two biggest parties failed to secure clear majorities in last week's local government elections.
ANC Western Cape secretary Songeza Mjongile said his party was looking to form coalitions in 13 municipalities in the province where the ANC sustained severe losses, losing control even of strongholds like Breede River and Saldanha Bay.
"We are looking at forming coalitions in all 13 municipalities, we are not excluding any," Mjongile said.
"We will talk to all parties, we hope to know by Wednesday."
The ANC's national working committee was meeting for an expected post-mortem of the vote that saw the party's national share of the vote dip to 62%.
Its hopes for finding governing partners in hung municipalities were under threat from a mooted national coalition agreement between the DA and Cope, which took 2,1% of the vote nationally.
Cope spokesperson Phillip Dexter said the party's working committee would meet on Monday and its congress national committee on Tuesday.
"At these meetings we will discuss the elections and the results and whether we want coalitions," he said.
Dexter said he could not comment on a possible national coalition agreement with the DA until the meetings were over, but confirmed that Cope leader Mosiuoa Lekota had held talks with DA leader Helen Zille.
Lekota was quoted at the weekend as saying that comparing the service delivery record of the DA to the ANC's record of corruption made the decision on who to side with easy for Cope.
The chairperson of the DA's federal executive, James Selfe, also confirmed that the DA and Cope were discussing a national deal that would cover municipalities where coalitions were feasible.
Selfe said the DA would steer clear of unstable coalitions with smaller parties that could compromise its ability to govern.
The DA is especially anxious to form a governing coalition in the Western Cape's Bitou municipality which party officials have described as an instance of "the worst ANC corruption".
The election produced a hung council and Cope, with one seat, would be kingmaker.
The Cape Times quoted the DA's Donald Grant as saying Cope would find "greater synergy and potential traction" with the DA than with the ANC, but talks could not be rushed.
The DA was holding a meeting of its federal executive in Cape Town.
The party increased its national share of votes to 23,9%, to a large extent by taking support away from small parties.