South Africa: ANC faces worst election loss in 20 years

Cheryl Sanders
August 7, 2016

With the nationwide vote count nearly complete, the ANC was ahead overall but recorded its worst electoral performance since white-minority rule fell 22 years ago.

The Democratic Alliance in the Nelson Mandela Bay is celebrating after winning the metro from the ANC.

With 58 per cent of ballots counted, the ruling party had won 52.6 per cent of the vote and 23 municipal councils, compared to almost 29.05 per cent and seven councils for the opposition Democratic Alliance.

The Democratic Alliance angered the ANC last month by declaring that it was the only party that could realize Mandela's dream of a "prosperous, united and non-racial South Africa".

Even if the ANC ultimately only loses control of one city, it will have been chastened by the election result. "So we will put together a government and we will co-operate", he said. "If we do have the better solution, what went wrong?" "We are willing to work with a political party that is willing to work for change in the municipalities that we have won a majority vote or where our support is needed", Van Damme said.

According to the most recent result on Friday, the Democratic Alliance (DA) won the majority of votes in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and the economically important Western Cape Town province, where Cape Town is located.

South Africa's political landscape is now experiencing some major changes.

The poll represents the most significant municipal elections in the ANC's twenty-two year reign, with many analysts viewing the vote as a plebiscite on the performance of the government and embattled president Jacob Zuma.

EFF leader Julius Malema, who once led the ANC's youth league, told reporters: "I want to see the ANC out of power". "There is no contract between politicians and the voter that says, 'Till death do us part.' The tables have turned".

The results suggest that the ANC is struggling to retain credibility with urban voters disenchanted by patchy service delivery and high unemployment amid a fierce economic downturn. But few would argue that a more robust opposition is bad news for this young democracy.

Whether the ANC is capable of addressing what went wrong internally is another open question. With 98% of the votes counted for the metro, the party now has 5,07% of the votes, placing it in third place.

"The voters have responded to the arrogance of my organization", said Mavuso Msimang, an ANC veteran and chairman of Corruption Watch, a civil society group.

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