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ANC beaten in S.African capital: electoral commission

South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) suffered a historic defeat in the nation’s capital to the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) in local elections, the electoral commission said Saturday.

In Tshwane, the metropolitan area that includes Pretoria, DA won 43 percent of the vote over the ANC’s 41 percent, according to final results in the elections that have underlined the declining popularity of the party that led the anti-apartheid struggle.

This defeat comes on top of the ANC conceding on Friday its loss in Port Elizabeth, a key battleground of the municipal election.

Defeat in Port Elizabeth was a humiliating blow for the ANC as the municipality is officially known as “Nelson Mandela Bay” in tribute to its past as a hotbed of anti-apartheid activism.

At the national level ANC remains the nation’s top party. However it is confronted by a significant drop in support after taking in less than 54 percent of votes, a plunge of eight points from 2011.

Turnout was about 58 percent as voters chose mayors and other local representatives responsible for hot-button issues including water, sanitation and power supplies.

Problems providing such basics trigger regular and sometimes violent “service delivery” protests in South Africa, where harsh socio-economic divisions remain a grim legacy of the apartheid era.