S. Africa’s ANC Loses Pretoria Polls

S. Africa’s ANC Loses Pretoria PollsS. Africa’s ANC Loses Pretoria Polls

South Africa’s governing African National Congress has been defeated by the opposition Democratic Alliance in local polls in the capital Pretoria.

The DA took 43% of the vote compared with ANC’s 41% in Tshwane, the municipality that includes Pretoria. However, DA will need to form a coalition to secure control there.

In the country’s largest city, Johannesburg, the ANC beat the DA but fell short of an outright majority, with 44% of the vote, BBC reported.

The ANC has also lost Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan area in the Eastern Cape, which includes Port Elizabeth, to the DA. It is the ANC’s worst electoral performance since it was elected to power at the end of apartheid and the replacement of white minority rule by democracy in 1994, and the first time since then that it has lost control of the capital.

The DA has won 93 seats in Tshwane while the ANC is second with 89 seats in the 214-seat municipal council.

Observers say a host of corruption scandals and internal party squabbles are to blame for the ANC’s decline.

The South African economy has stagnated since 2008’s global financial crisis, and the country has one of the highest rates of economic inequality in the world. Revelations that upgrades to President Jacob Zuma’s private home were funded with $20 million of public money caused an outcry. The Constitutional Court recently instructed Zuma to reimburse the state $507,000.

The party of late President Mandela, the icon of the struggle against apartheid, still commands strong support with about 54% of the national vote. The DA has received about 27%, while the radical Economic Freedom Fighters party, contesting local elections for the first time, has taken about 8%.

DA’s leader, 36-year-old Mmusi Maimane, told reporters, “For far too long, the ANC has governed South Africa with absolute impunity.”

Maimane added that the idea that his party, which has its roots in the non-ANC opposition to apartheid, was a white one had been “completely shattered”.

The ANC said it would “reflect and introspect where our support has dropped”.