ANC Takes A Beating In South African Election. Can Zuma Hold On To Power?

With about 85 percent of the vote counted, South Africa’s ruling African National Congress — the party that ended apartheid — is ahead nationwide but is seeing its worst electoral performance since the end of white minority rule 22 years ago.

The main opposition Democratic Alliance party is on course to hold Cape Town and has pulled ahead in Port Elizabeth, with a close fight between the DA and the ANC in Pretoria and Johannesburg, AFP reported.

The ANC has won more than 60 percent of the vote at every election since the country’s first democratic vote in 1994 when Nelson Mandela became president.

Late Tuesday, the ANC recorded 54 percent of the vote, down from 62 percent in the 2011 municipal elections. The Democratic Alliance recorded 27 percent and the Economic Freedom Fighters, 7 percent, according to official results.

“We have shown some incredible growth,” Democratic Alliance leader Mmusi Maimane told 702 radio, BBC reported. “We call this the change election because we felt that it was a referendum on Jacob Zuma as a national figure, but we also had a referendum about the future of South Africa.”

The count is seen as an indication of how the next general election could turn out, Al Jazeera reported.

The poll is a mid-term comment on the performance of President Jacob Zuma, who has been the subject of scandals since taking office in 2009, and has been plagued by the country’s economic crises.