News August 25, 2016 at 06:00 am

South Africa’s Ruling Party ANC Kicked Out of Johannesburg for First Time

Fredrick Ngugi | Contributor

Fredrick Ngugi August 25, 2016 at 06:00 am

August 25, 2016 at 06:00 am | News

Jacob Zuma, President of South Africa and leader of ANC, its ruling party. BBC

After faring badly in the just-concluded local government elections, South Africa’s ruling party ANC has lost power to the opposition in Johannesburg for the first time in its history.

Although South Africa’s main opposition party Democratic Alliance (DA) didn’t get an outright win in Johannesburg – the largest city in South Africa – it negotiated a coalition with the country’s third largest political party Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), forcing ANC out of power.

The coalition gave DA the needed majority to remove ANC’s candidate, Parks Tau, who had been the Mayor of Johannesburg since 2011.

“It is a psychological blow to the ANC in a big way. First you lose a city named after your icon, Nelson Mandela, then you lose the administrative capital, now you lose your economic hub and you are reduced to the periphery,” Somadoda Fikeni, a professor of politics at the University of South Africa in Pretoria, told Bloomberg.

The African National Congress (ANC), which was founded by South Africa’s first President, the late Nelson Mandela, had ruled Johannesburg since the end of apartheid 20 years ago.

Chaotic Council Meeting

The ANC did not relinquish power in Johannesburg, one of its strongholds, without a fight. At Monday’s council meeting, a scuffle broke out between DA members and electoral commission officials as they disagreed over votes, according to the BBC.

An ANC council member who had been sworn in earlier that day collapsed and died shortly after DA’s new mayor, Herman Mashaba, was sworn in.

The ANC had garnered a majority vote of 44.5 percent while the opposition DA acquired 38.4 percent. But the opposition carried the day through a merger with the EFF, which garnered 11 percent of the vote.

Historic Loss

The loss of Johannesburg to the opposition signifies a historic shift in South Africa’s politics given that the ruling party ANC has retained control of the city, which is also the country’s economic epicenter, since apartheid ended in 1994.

Now, the decades-long political movement has not only lost votes in three major cities, but also in many rural parts of the country, with some political analysts claiming that a majority of ANC’s traditional voters decided to stay at home on election day.

While the ANC still remains the strongest party in South Africa, it has recently experienced serious criticism, even from its supporters, over a series of corruption scandals involving its senior members, including President Jacob Zuma.

Conversations

Must Read