While this critical question could have been squarely put after the historic electoral defeats the governing but embattled and crisis-ridden ANC government suffered in the 2016 local government elections — when it lost the most powerful metros of Johannesburg, Tshwane and Ekurhuleni to opposition parties — the further losses there last week have palpably and ominously emphasised its significance and relevance afresh.

But the results are now so much more glaringly adverse for the party that it is both valid and necessary to ask: are we seeing the beginning of the end of the once apparently unconquerable ANC, which strode the political stage during the liberation struggle and the first decade of the postapartheid era like an indomitable colossus?..

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