A South African man casts his ballot during the municipal elections on August 3, 2016 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (AFP Photo)
South Africa's opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has gained the lead in local elections in three major cities, posing a significant challenge to the country’s long-time ruling party, the African National Congress (ANC).
With half of the votes counted, partial results showed on Thursday that the opposition DA had gained a majority in Pretoria, Johannesburg and Port Elizabeth while the ruling ANC held the lead with 52 percent.
The final results are expected to come out on Friday.
Since coming to power in 1994, the ANC has won more than 60 percent of the vote in all general elections.
Nationwide, the DA has only 31 percent of the votes and the radical left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters has nine percent of the ballots so far.
A South African voter has her ID checked while queuing at a polling station in Umlazi, Durban, on August 3, 2016. (AFP Photo)
Analysts say the DA’s surge in the municipality elections signals greater share of power for the official opposition and a decline in the dominance of the ANC ahead of the 2019 national election.
"It looks like we are going to be in government in a whole lot of places where we weren't in government before," said James Selfe, a senior DA executive.
The ANC, which has ruled the country since the end of apartheid regime and white supremacy, swept to power in the country's first democratic elections in 1994.
Many ANC supporters, however, have been switching sides to the DA.
The DA’s move upward in its share of votes comes against the backdrop of nationwide anger over high unemployment and a lack of basic services in the country.

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