With more than 95 percent of votes counted Friday in municipal elections, South Africa’s ruling party appeared to be headed for its biggest electoral blow since it won power at the end of apartheid 22 years ago. The results remained too close to call in the country’s largest city, Johannesburg, or Tshwane, the metropolitan area of the capital, Pretoria. But the leader of the opposition Democratic Alliance, Mmusi Maimane, told reporters that his party had won Tshwane, beating the African National Congress, formerly the main anti-apartheid movement.
The Democratic Alliance has its roots in white liberal opposition to apartheid and remained a white-led party until last year. Neither it nor the ANC appeared to have a majority in Johannesburg or Tshwane that would allow it to govern alone, raising the possibility of coalition governments. Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa told reporters it was too early to analyze the election results, saying it would be like reading “somebody’s tombstone before they die”.
The ANC lost a key municipality named after its star, Nelson Mandela Bay, to the Democratic Alliance, which fielded a white candidate for mayor. The Democratic Alliance already runs the city of Cape Town, the country’s second largest and the only major South African city where blacks are not in the majority, and has been pushing hard to win supporters in other regions. In a statement, the ANC said “we will reflect and introspect where our support has dropped.” The party so far has received 54 percent of votes across the country, its lowest percentage ever, with the Democratic Alliance getting 26 percent.
– Compiled from various news agencies.