By Devon Maylie
April 23, 2014 8:11 p.m. ET

RUSTENBURG, South Africa—The country’s ruling African National Congress is expected to win national elections in May, but public frustration is growing over widening income disparity and the government’s perceived inability to address the issue.

The victors will preside over an increasingly fragile political and economic landscape, especially here in South Africa’s platinum heartland, where strikes have dearly cost the world’s biggest producer of the metal.

Talks to end the latest strike, which is in its third month, are set to resume Thursday. Mining companies say they have taken a loss of more than $1.4 billion in revenue and that workers have lost $500 million in salaries.

President Jacob Zuma and his party are facing public anger that has swelled since the March disclosure of the $23 million upgrade to his private home, a cost seven times higher than Nelson Mandela’s security upgrade, and far more than previous presidents.

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