The Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in Pretoria, South Africa reported that the ruling African National Congress (ANC http://www.anc.org.za/) party won the majority of local elections last week. None of the major cities in South Africa changed hands. Discontent over a lack of jobs and basic services lifted support for the ANC’s main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA). Formed in 2000 the DA was a merger of the Democratic Party and the New National Party (NNP), whose predecessor ruled under apartheid. The two movements split in 2001 and the NNP leader formed an alliance with the ANC.
Although the ANC only lost a few percentage points in the election, Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe told reporters in Pretoria that “Any loss is a wake-up call for a political party.” Mantashe pointed out that many voters don’t participate in local elections.
The DA increased support in major cities already controlled by the ANC. Cape Town remains the only major DA-controlled city. ANC support dropped in Johannesburg, Pretoria, and Durban indicating increasing strength for the DA. It is expected to take decades before an opposition party has any chance of taking over political power from the ANC. The ANC has won every election since 1994 and many black supporters remain loyal to the party because of its long fight against apartheid. However, rising unemployment (one in four people are without jobs) and a lack of basic services in many townships is beginning to weaken ANC support.