South Africa’s ruling party lost control of the nation’s capital, Pretoria, after its choice of mayoral candidate alienated its supporters and the opposition capitalized on voter discontent over a flagging economy and high unemployment.

The African National Congress won 41.5 percent of the popular vote in the Tshwane municipality, which includes Pretoria, in the Aug. 3 municipal election, while the Democratic Alliance won 43.1 percent and the Economic Freedom Fighters 11.6 percent, verified tallies released by the Independent Electoral Commission in Pretoria on Saturday showed.

DA leader Mmusi Maimane speaks at the Independent Electoral Commission in Pretoria on Aug. 4.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane speaks at the Independent Electoral Commission in Pretoria on Aug. 4.
Photographer: Gianluigi Guercia/AFP/Getty Images

The DA and the EFF have both said they are prepared to enter into coalitions with each other, but not the ANC, indicating that the capital may fall into opposition hands. The ANC, which has ruled Africa’s most-industrialized economy since the first multiracial elections in 1994, lost control of Cape Town, the legislative capital, to an opposition coalition in 2006. The DA secured outright control of the city five years later and extend its lead in this week’s vote.

The ANC has been wracked by infighting in Tshwane, where one party faction backed incumbent mayor Kgosientso Ramokgopa to retain his post and another backed his deputy, Mapiti Matsena. Riots erupted in June after the party named lawmaker and former agricultural minister, Thoko Didiza, as a compromise candidate. Five people died, shops were looted and buses and other vehicles were torched.

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