Johannesburg, Aug 5 (IANS) South Africans have delivered a stinging rebuke to the ruling African National Congress (ANC), handing the party its first major election setback since it swept to power in 1994 after the end of apartheid.
With 92 per cent of the votes counted after Wednesday’s municipal elections, the party has lost the key battleground of Nelson Mandela Bay to the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA), the BBC reported on Friday.
By Friday morning, the ANC was still in the lead with 54 per cent, followed by 26 per cent for the DA and seven per cent for the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
The ANC and the DA are now in a close fight for Johannesburg and Pretoria. The results were expected later on Friday.
The ANC has won more than 60 per cent of the vote at every election since Nelson Mandela became the first democratically elected President of South Africa on May 10, 1994, the BBC noted.
South African political analyst Ranjeni Munusamy said the loss of Nelson Mandela Bay, which includes the city of Port Elizabeth and has a rich history of anti-apartheid struggle, is a blow from which the party will never recover.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane told the BBC: “If you ask people in Nelson Mandela Bay what they voted for they said, ‘We voted for change’.”
“I think that to me says that our message got through — it says our people heard us and South Africans still believe in a dream of a non-racial South Africa… South Africans still want our country to prosper.”
According to analysts, these local elections were being seen as an indication of the mid-term popularity of President Jacob Zuma, the BBC said.
The next general elections are due in 2019 but Zuma cannot stand for a third term as president.