South Africa’s main opposition party made major gains against the ruling African National Congress (ANC) in local elections, preliminary results showed Friday, with the ANC suffering major losses for the first time since it came to power 20 years ago.
A report by the electoral commission in Cape Town said that with 95 per cent of ballots counted, the Democratic Alliance (DA) emerged as a rising power against the ANC in several districts.
It said it won the majority of votes in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and the economically important Western Cape province, where Cape Town is located.
After two decades of political dominance, the historic ANC liberation movement once led by Nelson Mandela was also at risk of losing its majority in the capital Pretoria and the economic metropole Johannesburg, where the results were still too close to call.
It said that the ANC led the countrywide elections overall, garnering 54.4 per cent support as compared with the DA’s 26.3 per cent.
A report noted that in a highly symbolic loss, the ANC dropped to second place in Zuma’s hometown of Nkandla in KwaZulu-Natal province.
It said that many South Africans have criticised President Jacob Zuma and the ANC for the lagging economic growth, high unemployment, widespread corruption and cronyism, lack of housing and crumbling education and health systems.
This election appears to continue the ANC’s decline in popularity, which has been slow but constant.
The party received 62 per cent of the vote in 2014 national elections, down from nearly 66 per cent in 2009.
It said that the ANC was on track for its worst electoral performance since the end of apartheid on Friday as voters vented anger about high unemployment and corruption in municipal elections that herald a sea change in politics and society.
It said that ANC has lost support particularly in cities among voters who feel their lives have not improved and accuse President Jacob Zuma of mismanaging the economy.