President Jacob Zuma gives his speech at the IEC’s results centre in Pretoria while women protest in front of the stage. (Karabo Ngoepe, News24)
Pretoria – The ANC was left bruised and the DA energised, while the EFF emerged as kingmakers following one of the most hotly-contested elections in post-democratic South Africa.
Support for the ruling party fell to below 60% of the votes for the first time since 1994, who only won outright majorities in Buffalo City, Mangaung, and eThekwini.
In Gauteng, the party got 44.55% of the vote, the DA 38.37%, and the EFF 11.09%. The ANC failed to get over the 50% mark in Johannesburg, Ekurhuleni, Tshwane, and Mogale City.
The failure of any single party to break the 50% mark meant coalitions would be the order of the day for the next five years.
The EFF had said it would not enter into coalitions with the ANC, the party its founding members rejected in 2013. The UDM had said it was prepared to enter into partnerships with the DA, which could see Mmusi Maimane’s party getting an outright majority in Nelson Mandela Bay.
The ANC's Gauteng chairperson, Paul Mashatile, said the ANC had already been approached by other parties, and had approached others to negotiate possible coalitions.
President Jacob Zuma struck a conciliatory tone and said the 2016 local government elections showed the world that democracy was thriving in South Africa. He congratulated all the parties, including those who gained new municipalities. South Africans were the real victors, and their will prevailed, he said.
"You have shown the world that South Africa is a thriving democracy where differences of political opinion and diverse political preferences are allowed to flourish," he said in a speech at the IEC’s results centre in Pretoria.
He called on elected representatives to build accessible, caring, and efficient local governments, regardless of which party was in charge in municipalities.
His speech was overshadowed by an anti-rape protest by a group of women. As he spoke, they stood up and displayed placards with words recalling his rape trial 10 years ago. More drama followed when security guards shoved them away.
DA leader Mmusi Maimane gave assurances that the party would not purge any civil servants in the metros where it would take over from the ANC.
"The issue is not your political affiliation; the issue is about making sure that you have the best person to do the job.
"I'm not out there to purge. There's this misinformed rumour that the DA is out to purge the municipality. That's not true," he said.
The party wanted the best people to do the work, regardless of their race or political affiliations.
In Nelson Mandela Bay there had been "a lot of patronage" under the ANC government, but he said people could still be convinced to do a good job, even if they had been appointed because of this.
Port Elizabeth mayoral candidate Athol Trollip however warned that those who had been appointed irregularly, or who were involved in corruption, would come under scrutiny.
- Find everything you need to know about the 2016 Local Government Elections at our News24 Elections site, including the latest news and detailed, interactive maps for how South Africa has voted over the past 3 elections, or download the app for iOS and Android.