Ruling ANC loses power in Johannesburg after 22 years

JOHANNESBURG • South Africa's main opposition party has won control of the local government in Johannesburg - the country's economic hub - unseating the ruling party, which has run the municipal council since apartheid ended 22 years ago.

The victory on Monday gave the Democratic Alliance (DA) control of both Johannesburg and Pretoria, the nation's capital, which was one of the other heavy losses in urban areas suffered by the ruling African National Congress (ANC) at the Aug 3 local elections.

The municipal elections were largely seen as a referendum on President Jacob Zuma, whose rule of Africa's most advanced economy has been dogged by scandal.

Of the country's six most populous cities, ANC won an outright majority in only one: Durban, Mr Zuma's traditional stronghold.

By taking over the two major cities, DA has reshaped the political landscape in South Africa, where ANC has ruled unopposed since it ended white-minority rule in 1994.

"We are going to bring change that is going to bring jobs to our people. Let's get this city working again," said new mayor Herman Mashaba, a black businessman.

"People today with no toilets are expected to live in a city regarded as a world-class city," he said after his win was declared on Monday.

ANC took 45 per cent of the Johannesburg vote to DA's 38 per cent in the elections - short of an outright majority.

However, DA rallied smaller parties to back Mr Mashaba, who won by 144 votes to 125 for the former mayor, ANC's Parks Tau.

The leftist Economic Freedom Fighters became the kingmaker when it came in third in the city.

Nationally, ANC - the political party of the late anti-apartheid hero Nelson Mandela - suffered its worst result in 22 years in the municipal vote.

It garnered less than 54 per cent of ballots cast - an eight percentage point drop from the last local polls in 2011.

DA has been running the local government in Cape Town, where Parliament is situated, since 2006.

ANC is working to form coalitions in other municipalities where it lost its majority.

REUTERS, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 24, 2016, with the headline 'Ruling ANC loses power in Johannesburg after 22 years'. Print Edition | Subscribe