South Africa’s governing African National Congress has been defeated by the opposition Democratic Alliance in local polls in the capital Pretoria.
The DA took 43% of the vote compared with the ANC’s 41% in Tshwane, the municipality that includes Pretoria.
The DA will need to form a coalition in order to secure control there.
In the country’s largest city, Johannesburg, the ANC beat the DA but fell short of an outright majority, with 44% of the vote.
The ANC has also lost Nelson Mandela Bay metropolitan area in the Eastern Cape, which includes Port Elizabeth, to the DA.
It is the ANC’s worst electoral performance since it was elected to power at the end of apartheid and the replacement of white minority rule by democracy in 1994, and the first time since then that it has lost control of the capital.
The DA has won 93 seats in Tshwane while the ANC is second with 89 seats in the 214-seat municipal council.
Observers say a host of corruption scandals and internal party squabbles are to blame for the ANC’s decline.
The South African economy has stagnated since 2008’s global financial crisis, and the country has one of the highest rates of economic inequality in the world.
Revelations that upgrade to President Jacob Zuma’s private home were funded with $20m of public money caused an outcry. The Constitutional Court recently instructed Mr Zuma to reimburse the state $507,000.
The municipal election result is probably the biggest wake-up call the governing ANC has received since it ushered in democracy in South Africa in 1994.
Clearly the ANC still commands huge support across the country but that support is waning. It can no longer take it for granted that the black majority will blindly follow it.