South Africa’s ANC Is Set to Lose Majority in Zuma Stronghold
South Africa’s ruling party is set to lose its majority in the stronghold province of KwaZulu-Natal, where unrest erupted in July following the arrest of former President Jacob Zuma.
The African National Congress will also fail to secure an outright victory in the eThekwini municipality, the provincial capital that it’s ruled since at least 2004, results released by the nation’s electoral commission on Wednesday showed. While counting is still under way -- with only 79% of results finalized so far -- the party’s head of elections, Fikile Mbalula, conceded it has “not performed well at all.”
The ANC faced a “bouquet” of issues in the run-up to the Nov. 1 election, including the deadly riots three months ago, Mbalula said in an interview in Pretoria. The violence, which also affected Gauteng province, erupted after Zuma was jailed following his conviction on a contempt-of-court charge. At least 354 people died.
KwaZulu-Natal brings the largest share of delegates to ANC elective conferences and has previously been a kingmaker, including at the gathering at which Zuma was first elected as leader in 2007. Party leadership disputes and politically motivated killings in the province ahead of the vote suggest it will struggle to unite behind a single candidate at next year’s meeting, when President Cyril Ramaphosa will seek re-election.
The biggest winner in the region is the ethnic Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party, which governed the province in the 1990s during the nation’s transition to democracy. The ANC is now preparing to enter into coalition talks in municipalities across the country, including eThekwini, where polls suggest the ANC winning about 42%.
“If we fail to retain eThekwini it will mean big challenges for us,” Mbalula said. “We are still optimistic that we can climb above 50%. If it doesn’t happen, it will be a coalition.”
Results for metropolitan areas as of 3:49 p.m. local time:
|Nelson Mandela Bay||41.0%||38.9%||6.8%|
|Source: Electoral Commission of South Africa|
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