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Aug. 1, 2016 (GIN) – This week’s municipal polls will reveal the depth of disenchantment with the historic African National Congress.

Massive unemployment, failing basic services and corruption have fueled discontent among the ANC’s stalwart base of support. Some voters will be pulling the lever for a different party this week in what was long inconceivable – to abandon the party of Nelson Mandela which headed the struggle against white minority rule and was elected by ballot in 1944.

Former ANC treasurer Matthew Phosa was questioned by a BBC reporter. “You’ve supported (President) Jacob Zuma in the past. What has changed?”

“We knew less about (President) Zuma being corrupt,” he replied. “There was no Nkandla when we supported him. I’ve known him 43 years, I supported him, I admired him, I respected him… But in a political situation you cannot be in denial.”

Earlier, in a speech to business leaders, he said bluntly: ““The President’s occupation of his current position has become even more controversial than before… We need a new beginning, fresh and selfless leadership and a collective that finds a cause bigger than itself.”

“We have an economy in trouble, society in turmoil, state capture in the making and rampant sycophancy. When will the Emperor realize that he is naked?”

Nkandla, the private estate of President Zuma, was handsomely renovated with government funds. After an investigation, the Constitutional Court in April issued a harsh judgement, finding the president failed to uphold, defend and respect the Constitution. It ordered him to personally repay the government within 45 days.

With elections drawing near, President Zuma has appeared at various rallies. Addressing a filled-to-capacity Emirates Airline Park in Johannesburg, broadcast live to other stadia, President Zuma took responsibility for some of the country’s troubles.

“There is a Cape Town that caters for the needs of the rich and wealthy, which are prioritized, and another which leaves the poor unserviced and under-developed,” he was quoted by News24Wire to say. “The ANC will work to win back the city so that the poor can also be taken seriously.”

The party had knocked on thousands of doors, he said, and had heard people’s dissatisfaction and what it meant to South Africans to “advance people’s power.”

Still, recent polls show the ANC neck and neck in some of the country’s large urban centers. ANC candidate for mayor of Jo’burg, Parks Tau, and Democratic Alliance candidate Herman Mashaba are holding even. Another poll found 62 percent of residents “very likely” to vote, followed by 30 percent “likely” – a much higher number than vote in the U.S.

The ANC, the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters are just three of 204 parties contesting – 68% more than the number in the 2011 poll.

“There has been hot air and cold lies, big dreams and empty promises, bloodshed and broken lives,” penned Daily Maverick editor Ranjeni Munusamy.

“Our country is messy but the pulse of democracy is certainly something to celebrate.”

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