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South Africa's ruling ANC got the worst clobbering since the end of apartheid

The party of Nelson Mandela, which has ruled for 22 years, got punished by voters as corruption allegations swirl.

by Tess Owen
Aug 6 2016, 7:01pm

President Jacob Zuma attends the declaration announcement of the municipal elections in Pretoria, South Africa, Saturday, Aug. 6, 2016. (AP Photo/Herman Verwey)

The results from South Africa's Wednesday local elections are in, and it doesn't look good for the African National Congress, which saw its worst performance since it came to power at the end of apartheid in 1994, after decades of minority white rule.

The ANC, once the party of Nelson Mandela, was defeated by the opposition Democratic Alliance for the first time in Tshwane, the municipality that encompasses the nation's capital Pretoria. The result is bad news for the party that ended apartheid in the nation and was a major player in the peaceful transition to majority rule, but has lately been hampered by allegations of widespread corruption. The result changes the outlook for the next national election in 2019; the ANC still got the most votes, but now has to form coalitions in important cities.

In addition to losing Tshwane, the ANC also lost Nelson Mandela Bay, which includes the city of Port Elizabeth, to the DA.

The ANC and DA are now neck and neck in the race to secure control over Johannesburg, South Africa's largest city.

Some ANC officials blamed the poor showing on a low voter turnout. For others, it was the series of corruption scandals and internal party strife which turned voters off the ANC, the BBC reported.

In June, a South African court rejected President Jacob Zuma's efforts to appeal the almost 800 charges brought against him. Zuma is also the leader of the ANC.

Related: South Africa announces spending cuts as fears of recession loom

South Africa's economy has failed to get back on track since being hit by the 2008 global financial crisis. Economic inequality has remained a deep-rooted problem since the end of apartheid. The revelations, therefore, that Zuma's home renovations cost South African taxpayers $16 million stoked widespread anger. Zuma survived an impeachment vote in April after ignoring an order by the Constitutional Court to repay some of the state funds. He has since agreed to pay the money back.

The results of the election also show the rising popularity of the DA – a party that has been historically perceived as representing white interests, and which elected its first black leader, Mmusi Maimane, last year. The DA maintained its majority in Cape Town, which it has had since 2006.

Reuters contributed to this report