South Africa’s ruling party hits historic low in latest elections

Associated Press / Denis Farrell

South Africa’s ruling party garnered historically low support in the latest rounds of municipal elections this week. 

The African National Congress (ANC) won 46 percent of the national vote during Monday’s elections, according to data released from South Africa’s electoral commission on Thursday.

While the results still ensures that ANC is the dominant party, the percentage is down eight points from the last election in 2016, when the party won 54 percent of the vote, the data shows.

It’s also the first time that the ANC, the party of former South African president Nelson Mandela, won less than 50 percent of the vote since 1994, when the party ended minority rule, Reuters noted.

In a statement on Wednesday, when the preliminary results were announced, the ANC said that this year’s elections were “the most difficult elections we have contested.”  

The ANC further cast the blame on low voter turnout caused by the “objective conditions” of the pandemic, weather and logistical issues.

But the party said the turnout communicates a “clear message” about how voters feel.

“The people are disappointed in the ANC with the slow progress in fixing local government, in ensuring quality and consistent basic services, in tackling corruption and greed,” the party said in a statement. “People are happy with the renewal of the ANC and therefore, our nation’s mission in building a better life for all.”

Monday’s elections were focused on councilors and mayors to govern cities, The New York Times reported.

However, the party was facing widespread anger over a variety of issues like corruption, the party’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic, and unemployment, the newspaper noted.

The Democratic Alliance party, the ANC’s main opposition, said the vote “signaled the beginning of the end of the ANC’s political dominance.” The party won just under 22 percent of the vote in Monday’s elections.

“The hallmark of a stable democracy is that government changes peacefully through the ballot box,” the opposition party said. “Achieving this has been the DA’s central objective over decades, and we are now far closer to this goal.”


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