JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) - South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC) failed to take control of President Jacob Zuma's hometown of Nkandla, local election results showed on Thursday, a symbolic blow to the scandal-tinged Zuma.
Zuma survived an impeachment vote in April after the Constitutional Court said he breached the law by ignoring an order to repay some of the $16 million in state funds spent on renovating his private home in Nkandla, located in a poverty-stricken rural area of Kwa-Zulu Natal province.
"Nkandla" has become a household word in South Africa that is almost synonymous with graft.
The loss, in local polls that are the sternest test the ANC has faced since the end of apartheid in 1994, will also smart because it was at the hands of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), a Zulu nationalist party, which widened its tally in the area to 54 percent from 46 percent in 2011.
The ruling party garnered 44 percent.
Zuma, a traditional Zulu with four wives and an earthy style, has helped deliver the Zulu vote in the province for the ANC in elections, and cast his own vote in the area on Wednesday.
But the IFP, which mostly appeals to Zulus, had almost 5 percent of the national vote with most of the tally completed compared to 3.6 percent in the last local elections in 2011.
(Reporting by Ed Stoddard; Editing by James Macharia)