South Africa’s governing ANC party has lost control of the country’s largest city and economic centre, Johannesburg. The city council elected as mayor Herman Mashaba from the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA).
It follows local elections earlier this month that produced no outright winner in most districts, resulting in hung municipalities and forcing parties to form coalitions to govern.
Of the country’s six biggest cities, the ANC only won an outright majority in Durban, seen as a stronghold for South African President Jacob Zuma.
A BBC report said there was drama at Monday’s Johannesburg council meeting, which lasted 11 hours.
A scuffle broke out between opposition party members and electoral commission officials and an ANC councillor who was sworn in earlier in the day collapsed and died shortly after Mr Mashaba was elected.
The ANC had won 44.5 per cent of the vote, more than the DA’s 38.4 per cent. But the left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) with 11 per cent found itself in the position of kingmaker and refused to give its votes to the ANC.
The election of the Democratic Alliance’s Herman Mashaba as mayor of Johannesburg represents a tectonic shift in South African politics.
City of gold
This is the first time since the end of apartheid that the ANC has lost control of the city of gold, as Johannesburg is known locally.
The Johannesburg wing of the ANC is known within the party to be professional and not corrupt.
However, voters still punished it for the litany of corruption scandals the ANC has been involved in at a national level.
And there were some local problems, including potholed roads, a shambolic electricity billing system and refuse strikes that left the city filthy.
What has happened in Johannesburg is a microcosm of what could happen nationally come the general election in 2019.
Mr Mashaba, a 56-year-old businessman, has promised to reform the city administration.
“As of this evening, corruption is declared public enemy number one in this city,” he told cheering supporters.
“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.”