Angela Thoko Didiza
Protests erupted as ruling party ANC chose Angela Thoko Didiza as candidate for mayor in the Tshwane Municipality getty images

Violent protests have erupted near South Africa's administrative capital Pretoria. Hundreds of people took to the streets in the municipality of Tshwane to protest against the decision of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) party to choose senior party member Angela Thoko Didiza as candidate to run for the mayor position.

Protests started on Sunday (19 June) after a member of the ANC was shot dead as factions clashed at a meeting in Pretoria to decide on the candidates, Reuters reported. The ANC then named senior party member and former cabinet minister, Thoko Didiza, as its candidate for Tshwane.

However, residents are angry as they want incumbent mayor, Kgosientso Ramokgopa, to run as candidate in the election, which will be held in August.

Demonstrators burnt buses and set tyres on fire to barricade roads. Violence quickly spread to Atteridgeville, Ga-Rankuwa and Hammanskraal, with the BBC reporting demonstrators are looting shops and singing anti-apartheid struggle songs.

The government released a statement calling for protesters to cease violent activities. The statement alleged protesters attacked police vehicles.

The ANC said its members could not be blamed for the violence. "This is not a result of the nomination of the mayor in Tshwane, it's thuggery," ANC Secretary General Gwede Mantashe told eNCA.

Local elections are a major test for ANC, which has been in power since South Africa ended apartheid rule in 1994. The country will hold presidential elections in 2019, amid growing discontent towards ANC President Jacob Zuma, who is accused of corruption and of being unable to restore the country's crippled economy.