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ANC’s Support Plunges in South Africa’s Richest Province Gauteng

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May 9 (Bloomberg) -- South Africa’s ruling African National Congress hemorrhaged support to its two main rivals in Gauteng, the country’s richest province, leading officials to call for a rethink of party strategy.

ANC support slumped to 53 percent in Gauteng, from 64 percent five years ago, according to provisional figures from about 95 percent of voting districts. The province includes Johannesburg, South Africa’s biggest city, and the national capital, Pretoria. The Democratic Alliance surged to 31 percent from 22 percent, while the Economic Freedom Fighters won 10 percent in the group’s maiden contest.

“There is no way the ANC can be comfortable” with the Gauteng results, Nomvula Mokonyane, the outgoing provincial premier, said in an interview in Pretoria today. “We need to go back and build a relationship with our communities in Gauteng.”

The loss of support in Gauteng reduced the ANC’s majority nationwide to 62 percent, according to provisional results, from 65.9 percent five years ago.

The imposition of tolls on freeways around Johannesburg and Pretoria in the face of widespread opposition eroded support for the ANC. The DA’s candidate for the premiership in Gauteng, Mmusi Maimane also drew backing from the province’s black middle class and helped broaden the party’s traditional white support base.

“We’ve pushed them hard and they know it, they are feeling anxious about it,” Maimane said in an interview in Pretoria today. “It’s a shift in the story of Gauteng. We have a foundation, we can build from here.”

Urban Vote

The DA’s gains will boost its prospects of winning control of Johannesburg from the ANC in municipal elections in 2016, Jonathan Faull, a political analyst with the Institute for Security Studies, said in an interview.

The EFF’s message also “resonated strongly in Gauteng,” Faull said. The new party won backing from unemployed urban black youths with its proposals to nationalize mines and banks.

“People are angry and that has translated into the ANC losing a big proportion of the urban vote, which is in Gauteng,” Adam Habib, a political analyst and vice-chancellor of the University of the Witwatersrand, said in a phone interview from Johannesburg.

Nationwide, the DA is set to win 22 percent and the EFF 6.3 percent, with more than 99 percent of ballots counted.

To contact the reporters on this story: Mike Cohen in Cape Town at mcohen21@bloomberg.net; Amogelang Mbatha in Johannesburg at ambatha@bloomberg.net

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net Ben Holland

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