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Johannesburg, South Africa, switches parties for first time since apartheid

By Shawn Price
Johannesburg, South Africa, switches parties for first time since apartheid
South Africa's ruling party, the African National Congress Party, continues to decline in popularity after losing the country's biggest city and economic hub, Johannesburg. It follows the political losses of Pretoria and Cape Town. The election was the worst showing for the ANC since before the fall of apartheid 20 years ago and the rise of Nelson Mandela, pictured. UPI File Photo | License Photo

JOHANNESBURG, South Africa, Aug. 23 (UPI) -- South Africa's governing African National Congress Party lost control the country's economic hub of Johannesburg for the first time since the fall of apartheid 20 years ago.

Newly elected Mayor Herman Mashaba is a member of the ANC's chief rival, Democratic Alliance. Mashaba's win comes after the ANC lost the country's two other biggest cities, Cape Town and the capital, Pretoria.

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The ANC has held power across South Africa since Nelson Mandela won the presidency in 1994. But its losses in three big cities parallel the decline of ANC support at a national level, with recent polls showing the party's popularity falling from 62.2 percent two years ago to 54.5 percent. A bad economy and a series of scandals involving President Jacob Zuma have played a major role in the party's decline.

Mashaba, 56-year-old cosmetics entrepreneur, has vowed to take on corruption in Johannesburg and unemployment in the city.

"Over 800,000 of our residents, one-in-three, are today unemployed," he said. "We need to address this and we need to address this as a matter of urgency."

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