For more than 20 years, the African National Congress (ANC) party has dominated South Africa’s politics. It held majorities at both the national level and in most municipalities. Under the ANC’s virtually uncontested rule, corruption has seeped into all levels of government. The country also ranks high in violent crime, including murders per capita.
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The Democratic Alliance is the only credible opposition. The party gained a majority in the province of Western Cape, which includes the city of Cape Town, in 2009. This area has made significant progress in reducing corruption under Democratic Alliance rule.
The municipal elections held in early August 2016 resulted in huge losses for the ANC, which still remains the biggest party nationally. However, the Democratic Alliance, under the leadership of Mmusi Maimane, gained a majority in the important metropolitan areas of Pretoria and Port Elizabeth.
Most important was the Democratic Alliance’s breakthrough in Johannesburg, the country’s largest city and financial center. The ANC remains the largest party in the city’s local government, but the Democratic Alliance managed to break its majority, and will govern in a coalition with another party. The Democratic Alliance was led in Johannesburg by successful businessman Herman Mashaba, who was elected mayor.
It can be expected that the new governments, especially in the three municipalities, will manage to reduce corruption and improve administrative efficiency – to the benefit of the whole country. Mr. Mashaba, in particular, is known for his passion for efficient governance. Examples of improvements in the large South African metropolises could help to break the country’s inefficient, corrupt system of government.