PRETORIA, Nov 4 (Reuters) – South Africa’s governing African National Congress (ANC) on Thursday was nursing a fresh political headache after its worst election result, as local polls showed support for the legacy party of Nelson Mandela dipping below half for the first time.
Results from 99% of polling stations in local elections gave it 46% of votes cast, suggesting anger over corruption and poor service delivery had led some voters to defect from the party of the country’s liberation hero, and others to stay away.
The share of the ANC, led by President Cyril Ramaphosa, has consistently declined at local polls, often seen as a prime opportunity for the electorate to lodge protest votes. In the last municipal polls, in 2016, the ANC got 54%, and in the one before that, 62%.
But rival parties have been unable to capitalise on dissatisfaction with the ANC. Its closest rival, the Democratic Alliance (DA), is still regarded by many as a party for South Africa’s economically privileged white minority.
The Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), a fledgling Marxist party, is prone to radical and sometimes violent rhetoric that doesn’t appeal to a broad range of voters.
At 0930 GMT, the results from 99% of 23,000 of polling stations also showed DA had won 21% of the votes, also down from 27% in 2016, and EFF was hovering around 10%, the Electoral Commission’s website showed.
ANC officials on Wednesday acknowledged a message from voters that the party needs to “shape up “, after being dogged by several corruption scandals and unfulfilled promises to build roads, assure regular water supply and stop power cuts.
If these results are replicated in 2024 polls, the ANC could be forced to seek coalitions to govern.
“It is an unambiguous signal to the ANC from the electorate … people are disappointed in the ANC,” the party’s Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte told a news conference on Wednesday.
Photo – A woman leaves a voting station at an old church after casting her vote during the local government elections at a voting station in Alexandra township, Johannesburg, South Africa. EPA-EFE/KIM LUDBROOK