South Africa’s governing party, ANC, has suffered unprecedented defeat in the capital Pretoria, at the just concluded municipal election.
Final results released by the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) showed that leading opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA) took 43% of the vote compared with the ANC’s 41% in Tshwane, the municipality that includes Pretoria.
It is the first time that the African National Congress has lost control of the capital since the white minority apartheid regime was replaced by democracy in 1994.
The DA won 93 seats in Tshwane while the ANC is second with 89 seats in the 214-seat municipal council.
In the country’s largest city, Johannesburg, the ANC beat the DA but fell short of an outright majority, with 44% of the vote.
The ANC also lost Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan area, its traditional stronghold in the Eastern Cape, which includes Port Elizabeth.
However, the ANC still commands huge support across the country as it garnered about 54% of the national vote compared with the DA’s 27%, while the radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party – contesting local elections for the first time – polled about 8%.
Alliances would have to be forged as neither of the two leading parties got the mandatory 50 percent plus in the crucial Tshwane and Johannesburg Metros, leaving the door open for a coalition government for which the EFF holds a major bargaining chip.
IEC Chairman, Glen Mashinini, said the election was adjudged 96 percent free and fair and thanked all stakeholders for their contributions to the success.
Also speaking at the Election Results Centre in Pretoria, President Jacob Zuma commended the peaceful conduct of the voting exercise.
“Our democracy is maturing,” he said. “Let us get back to work and build our country together.”
Zuma’s address was dented by anti-rape protesters, and members of Julius Malema’s radical EFF who staged a walk out before the president mounted the podium.
As President Zuma took to the podium for his address, four young women dressed in black stood in front of him and held up placards reading “I am 1 in 3”, “10 years Later”, “Khanga” and “Remember Khwezi”.
In 2005, a woman the media referred to as Khwezi laid rape charges against the president.
Zuma denied the claims, saying he had consensual sex with the HIV-positive woman at his home in Johannesburg.
In May 2006 Zuma was cleared of rape, with the judge ruling that the encounter was consensual.
The anti-rape protesters who were later removed by the president’s security staff brought the case back to the world’s attention as Zuma spoke on national TV and before global media.