South Africa's ruling ANC loses key cities in worst election defeat since apartheid
JOHANNESBURG: South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress, has suffered its worst electoral defeat since the end of apartheid, losing control over Pretoria, the country's administrative capital, in watershed local elections.
With all of the votes counted, the Independent Electoral Commission confirmed, three days after the poll, that the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) had won 43 per cent of the vote to the ANC's 41 per cent.
The DA has run Cape Town, the legislative capital, since 2006, and also won the industrial city of Port Elizabeth at this election. Its leader said it would now seek to form a majority coalition in Tshwane, the municipality covering Pretoria, with the Economic Freedom Fighters, the radical party of expelled ANC youth leader Julius Malema, which won 11 per cent.
Mmusi Maimane, the Soweto-born former preacher who leads the DA, said this year's local election would be "seen as a tipping point; the moment the ANC lost its foothold as a dominant party".
"Now begins the hard work of governing and governing well for the people of South Africa," he said. In a warning shot to the EFF, which has previously called for mine and bank nationalisation and Zimbabwe-style land seizures, he said the DA would not "seek power for power's sake".
"We can't go to bed without worrying that so many South Africans are unemployed, so many face the worst kind of poverty you can find, so many don't have services," he said. "We can't form governments that will undermine that objective of advancing the cause of freedom in South Africa."
Nelson Mandela's ANC swept to power amid jubilation in the first national election for all South Africans in 1994. But current president, Jacob Zuma, in his second term, is under intense pressure from within the ANC to step down after a series of corruption scandals saw the party's dominance eroded and Mr Zuma's own hometown, Nkandla, in the hands of IFP, a rival party.
"Jacob Zuma will go home to an IFP-run ward, go to parliament in a DA-run city and to work in a DA-run capital city," the DA's Phumzile van Damme noted on Twitter.
Allister Sparks, a political commentator, said the DA was "grabbing the gold nuggets of the economy" and would likely be able to argue in the 2019 national elections that it "already effectively runs the country".