SA’s ruling party ANC has for the first time in over 20 years, lost power in the country’s largest city and economic centre, Johannesburg.
Of course, the years before the 20-year mark do not even really matter because the country was still struggling with apartheid, so SA’s ruling party has really lost power in Johannesburg for the first time ever.
The city council of Johannesburg elected Herman Mashaba from the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) as mayor.
It is not the party’s first defeat either. Although it still remains the largest party in the country, it lost its council majority in local elections.
Losing control in both the capital Pretoria and Cape Town. It is truly a trying time for the ANC. In fact, in all of the country’s six biggest cities, the ANC only won an outright majority in Durban which is seen as a stronghold for incumbent President Jacob Zuma.
Local elections held earlier this month did not dish out any outright winner in most districts which led to hung municipalities that forced parties to form coalitions to govern.
The drama that broke out in the Johannesburg 11 hours council meeting on Monday heralded the victory. A scuffle broke out between opposition party members, electoral commission officials and an ANC Councillor who was sworn in earlier in the day and sadly collapsed and died shortly after Mr. Mashaba was elected.
SA’s ruling party had actually won 44.5% of the vote which of course surpassed the DA’s 38.4%. The other opposition party, Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) which won 11% was thrust in the position of kingmaker and bluntly refused to play with ANC. Giving their votes to the DA, they secured the victory for Mr. Mashaba.
Mr. Mashaba is a 56-year-old businessman who ran his campaign on promises to reform the city administration. He told cheering supporters after his victory;
“As of this evening, corruption is declared public enemy number one in this city…Public monies that have been misspent, misused, over the last five, 10 years or so…we’re going to take this money, we’re going to look after it, so that we can provide basic services to our people.”
The new mayor of Johannesburg also pledged to tackle unemployment; “Over 800,000 of our residents, one-in-three, are today unemployed. We need to address this and we need to address this as a matter of urgency.”