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S.Africa’s ANC wins local elections

South Africa’s ruling party was on Saturday declared the winner of the local elections, while the main opposition scored its biggest ever showing, the electoral commission said.

The African National Congress (ANC) garnered 62 percent of the votes, down from 64 percent in 2006 elections.

Support for the main opposition Democratic Alliance shot up from 16.9 percent to 23.9 percent, the party’s biggest win at the local level.

“Not a single party has refused to accept the outcome of these elections,” said Pansy Tlakula, the Independent Electoral Commission’s chief officer.

“I declare the 2011 elections free, fair and credible,” she added.

Turnout for the Wednesday polls was at 57.6 percent, the highest recorded in local polls, though still far lower than the 77 percent seen in the 2009 national elections.

Despite an outbreak of anti-government protests in shantytowns, voters remained loyal to the ANC as the party took control of seven of the country’s eight metropolitan areas.

The DA increased its support based in the Western Cape, retaining Cape Town, a city it has ruled since 2006.

President Jacob Zuma said the election came down to bread and butter issues.

“Our people declared their will through the ballot box and ours is to fulfil their wishes,” said Zuma.

He said democracy had matured in the country since 1994.

Smaller parties like the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) and the Congress of the People, the splinter group of the ANC, showed dwindling support due largely to infighting and poor organisation.

Zuma said the people had identified service delivery as a top priority that municipalities needed to work on.

“They articulated this in various community meetings and also through protest action in some areas, long before the elections,” he said.

They decided that this election would be about basic services such as water, electricity, housing, sanitation, roads and functional refuse removal amongst others, he added.