South Africa’s ruling ANC loses control of economic hub

Commercial properties, residential buildings and skyscraper offices, including the Hillbrow Tower, left, and the Ponte Tower, right, on the skyline viewed from a rooftop bar in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 21, 2021. (GUILLEM SARTORIO / BLOOMBERG)

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress lost control of the nation’s richest city as parties backed Mpho Phalatse from the main opposition Democratic Alliance as mayor of Johannesburg on Monday.

The parties installed Phalatse after the ANC failed to secure an outright majority in the city, tallying 33.60 percent in the Nov 1 local government elections. More than 60 local councils including major urban metropolitans did not have an outright winner.

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ActionSA made a commitment to all South Africans that, where we contest, we will unseat the ANC in these elections. We do not take this promise lightly.

Herman Mashaba, Leader, ActionSA

The DA won 26.1 percent and newly formed ActionSA, led by Herman Mashaba and hailed as a “king-maker” after its maiden election, got 16.1 percent. Mashaba, 62, was the mayor of Johannesburg from August 2016 to November 2019 when he was a DA member. 

“ActionSA’s councilors have cast their votes for DA mayoral candidates in Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni,” Mashaba said in an emailed statement on Monday. 

“ActionSA made a commitment to all South Africans that, where we contest, we will unseat the ANC in these elections. We do not take this promise lightly.”

The ANC’s loss of Johannesburg comes after it failed to retain control of the industrial hub of Ekurhuleni on the same day. 

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Council sittings for the capital, Tshwane and eThekwini in KwaZulu-Natal, a stronghold of former President Jacob Zuma, will also take place this week amid growing anticipation that the party’s mayoral candidates will lose to the opposition.