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S Africa’s ANC dealt blow as opposition politician named Pretoria mayor

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Solly Msimanga of South Africa’s opposition Democratic Alliance party waves to suppoters after being officially installed as the new mayor for Pretoria, also known as Tshwane, South Africa, August 19, 2016. (Reuters)

South Africa’s ruling party, African National Congress (ANC), has been dealt a major blow as an opposition politician is named as the mayor of the capital Pretoria for the first time since the end of Apartheid two decades ago.

Opposition councilor Solly Msimanga, 36, of the liberal center-right Democratic Alliance (DA), was elected Pretoria mayor on Friday.

"The people decided which way they want the city to go, and it was not the direction that it has been taking in the last... years," Msimanga said in his inaugural speech to the city council.

People are “tired of corruption, they are tired of nepotism, they are tired of cronyism... they are tired of work only given to members of certain families and their friends,” he said.

Msimanga vowed to end the patronage that he said had left the capital in the red.

"This city is technically bankrupt right now because of greediness and because of people who decided to put themselves first," he said.

"No more will our people suffer under the hands of the ANC." 

The ANC councilors heckled Msimanga during his speech.

It is the first time since the end of white-minority rule in 1994 that Pretoria, also known as Tshwane, is not headed by a mayor from the ANC.

The loss for the ANC and victory for the DA follows nationwide municipal elections earlier this month.

The ANC lost control of three major cities, namely, Pretoria, Johannesburg and Cape Town.

Nationwide, as well, the party suffered its worst results in 22 years in the municipal vote, gaining less than 54 percent of ballots cast, an eight percentage point drop from the last local elections in 2011.

The ANC was once viewed as the South African party upholding the ideas and tenets of anti-Apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, and the DA as the party serving rich white South Africans.


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