Voters line up in Johannesburg Wednesday. (Photo: Denis Farrell/AP)
Members of South Africa’s ruling African National Congress are celebrating following results from Wednesday’s vote showing they maintained their dominance; but the majority-white opposition party, fueled by Black discontent, did manage to make some gains.
The Democratic Alliance captured its most votes ever, getting almost 24 percent of the ballots with 99.3 percent of the votes counted, the AFP reports. Party members, including DA leader Helen Zille, campaigned in mostly Black districts where citizens have been protesting against the government for not receiving basic water and electricity services. Some Black voters, unhappy with the ANC because of these problems, vowed to defect to the DA, something President Jacob Zuma said their ancestors would never forgive them for. Some ANC leaders even said a vote against the party would make the health of 91-year-old anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela worse.
The mighty ANC, in power since Mandela won the presidency in 1994, kept control of the municipalities overall with 62 percent of the vote. Final results will be announced Saturday. Despite the foregone conclusion, both sides are claiming victory. "We have proved that we are in charge," Zuma said to cheering ANC supporters at the party’s Johannesburg headquarters. “"We have better policies, programs to change your quality of life."
But Zille, despite the fact her party remains a minority, says they have something to celebrate too. "We have won, for the first time, wards with 100 percent Black voters in them, and that was the watershed I was looking for," she said at a results center in Pretoria, reports the AFP.
The local elections, which were to elect municipal leaders, also saw its highest voter turnout ever recorded at 56.7 percent. The ANC maintained control in 193 of the nation’s 234 cities; the DA took 17, the AFP reports.