The opposition Democratic Alliance has beaten the ruling ANC in the capital's metropolitan area. South Africa's electors have voted for "real and positive change," said the party's leader.
South Africa's electoral commission on Saturday announced a major setback for the country's ruling African National Congress (ANC) following this week's municipal elections.
The opposition party Democratic Alliance (DA) gained 43 percent of the vote in the Tshwane municipality, which includes the nation's capital, Pretoria, while the ANC garnered 41 percent.
Meanwhile, the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters won 12 percent, with smaller parties splitting the remaining votes.
The announcement comes after the ANC on Friday conceded to the DA in Port Elizabeth, a key battleground in municipal elections. Port Elizabeth comprises part of the Nelson Mandela Bay municipality, so named in tribute to the anti-apartheid activist.
The ANC has witnessed a decline in popularity due to economic stagnation and a corruption scandal that led the Constitutional Court to rule that President Jacob Zuma violated the constitution, forcing him to pay back more than $500,000 (450 million euros) to the state.
"Election after election, the ANC has hung on its past glory and kept its place in the hearts of most South Africans … This time round, though, it's not enough," the Mail & Guardian newspaper said in an editorial, referring to the party's legacy in ending apartheid and bringing to power the country's first black president, Nelson Mandela.
Mmusi Maimane: "In years to come, and as our politics realigns, this election will be seen as a tipping point"
'Misgoverned our country with impunity'
At a press conference earlier on Saturday, DA leader Mmusi Maimane praised the party's supporters, saying they voted for change.
"For too long, the ANC has misgoverned our country with impunity. Millions of jobs have been lost, corruption has become endemic in ANC governments and hundreds of thousands of people are without basic services," Maimane said.
"We launched our local government election campaign with an offer of real and positive change for our country. With nearly all of the votes counted, it is now clear that the people of South Africa have voted for change," he added.
The electoral commission is expected to provide further results later Saturday.
ls/jlw (AP, Reuters, AFP)