Johannesburg – South African President Cyril Ramaphosa on Monday put up a brave face on the ruling ANC’s worst election showing in history, denying that it constituted a defeat.
The African National Congress won only 46% of the ballots cast nationally in last week’s local government polls, by far its worst showing since the end of white-minority rule in 1994.
But Ramaphosa told a post-election party meeting in Soweto: “The reality is that the ANC is still, by a significant margin, the most popular political organisation in the country.”
Out of the 213 councils contested, the ANC won majorities in 161 of them.
“We are not discouraged by the results, because we are not defeated. We are not despondent,” he said.
The party, which nationally has enjoyed an absolute majority for two decades, will have to be forced into coalitions with some of its main rivals – especially in major cities where its losses were most severe.
Yet Ramaphosa was defiant.
“We will not be on our knees (for coalition deals), and if we have to be in opposition, we will be the opposition,” he said to applause from party members gathered at a university campus hall.
The party of Nelson Mandela is paying the price for years of mismanagement, neglect and corruption which have, among other problems, left the country unable to guarantee steady electricity and water supplies.
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