Their Vote Election Day Public Holiday IEC vote South Africa
Photo Credit: Darryn Van Der Walt

South Africans dealt the ANC its biggest political blow since the end of apartheid, knocking the ruling party off its perch in three cities as voters vented anger at corruption, high unemployment and poor public services.

Frustrated at a stagnant economy, a 25% unemployment rate and corruption allegations that have dogged Jacob Zuma, the president, voters in local elections turned away from the ruling party in their millions and looked likely to deprive it of control in three major cities.

The Guardian reported that the ANC was also unlikely to make it to a 50 per cent outright majority in the capital Pretoria and economic-hub Johannesburg.

For decades the ANC has claimed an unshakeable dominance of South African politics, entering elections with an expectation of victory that critics say has contributed to stagnation and corruption.

This election will be the first time the party of the anti-apartheid hero, Nelson Mandela, has won less than 60% of the vote since country’s first multiracial poll in 1994.

The DA had earlier claimed victory in the Nelson Mandela Bay area, which includes the city of Port Elizabeth.

The DA secured enough votes to promise that although they would need a partner, they would not form a coalition with the ANC. With 98% of ballots counted, the DA had 46.65% of the vote compared with the ANC’s 40.99%.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane said that his party, having won the most votes in Nelson Mandela Bay, was talking to smaller parties about a coalition. He ruled out the possibility of working with the ANC.

“We will exclude the ANC entirely,” he said.

A significant loss of support for the ruling party in these areas could mark a watershed in South African society and politics as the country shifts from what has effectively been a one-party system in the era immediately post-apartheid.

It could reshape the political landscape ahead of the 2019 national election, and may also embolden President Jacob Zuma’s rivals within the ANC to challenge him.

Thursday’s vote sent a clear message that the years when South Africa effectively operated as a one-party system are over, or drawing towards a close. A record number of voters, over 26 million, registered for the election, with rival parties apparently mobilising supporters to sign up and then attend polling stations far more effectively than the ANC.

The Guardian also interviewed Dawie Scholtz… an election analyst who believed that the DA was particularly strong in more prosperous suburban areas around the cities.

“But it also showed that a party once dismissed as the voice of the white middle classes could challenge the ruling party in its strongholds.”

“The DA did also make modest inroads into the ANC traditional township voter base,” Scholtz has said.

“That point is important.”

The ANC lost Zuma’s hometown of Nkandla in Kwa-Zulu Natal province, a personal blow to Zuma, where the Inkatha Freedom Party retained its hold on the region.

“Jacob Zuma will go home to an IFP-run ward, go to parliament in a DA-run city and likely to work in a DA-run capital city,” said the DA’s spokesperson, Phumzile Van Damme in a triumphant tweet.

The results will increase pressure on Zuma, whose critics inside the party say he is irrevocably tainted and would like to see him step down before his term ends in three years, making way for a new leader to contest the 2019 general election.

The DA has capitalised on a reputation for efficient management in the one city it does control, Cape Town, to lure voters hoping for a revival in an economy that never fully recovered from the 2008 global economic crisis and which is still teetering on the brink of recession.

It has promised to liberalise the economy, including cutting red tape and making it easier to hire and fire workers, and even modest urban victories for the DA are likely to be welcomed by markets and investors.

Analysts have also stated that once a person votes for DA, they tend to vote for them again which means that the percentage increase in change will only grow in the next elections.

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Brent Lindeque is the founder and editor in charge at Good Things Guy.

Recognised as one of the Mail and Guardian’s Top 200 Young South African’s as well as a Primedia LeadSA Hero, Brent is a change maker, thought leader, radio host, foodie, vlogger, writer and all round good guy.

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