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The African National Congress was headed for victory in South Africa’s election on Friday, although the party was on course for its worst performance since it took power 25 years ago.
South Africans voting in Wednesday’s election for a new parliament and nine provincial legislatures expressed frustration at rampant corruption, high unemployment and racial inequalities that persist 25 years after the first all-races poll marked the end of white minority rule.
The poll was the toughest test yet for the ANC, which has ruled South Africa since the 1994 election. Nelson Mandela’s former liberation party has not won less than a 60% share of the vote since it came to power.
The ANC was in the driving seat for the parliamentary race with more than two-thirds of the voting districts counted. By 0600 GMT, 75.6% of ballots in 22,925 voting districts had been counted, showing the ANC to be in the lead with 57.21%, while the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) was on 21.81 % and the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) had garnered 10%.
At the last election in 2014, the ANC won 62% of votes, the DA 22% and the EFF 6%.
The ANC had hoped to reverse or at least arrest a slide in support after its efforts to address racial disparities in landownership, housing and services since the end of apartheid faltered. South Africa remains one of the most unequal societies in the world, according to the World Bank.
Based on the latest results from the Electoral Commission, analysts predicted the ANC was set for a vote share of between 55-59%. A poor showing for the ANC would embolden opponents of President Cyril Ramaphosa and risk a potential challenge to his leadership, analysts have said.
“The ANC will be elected with a record low of 27% of the eligible population backing them, compared with 47%in 1999. This kind of dynamic is not a mandate nor an impetus to change,” said Peter Attard Montalto, head of capital markets research at Intellidex.
“WILLING TO FORGIVE”
The rand steadied against the dollar in early trade on Friday, with traders saying the currency would remain volatile as markets digest the poll results. “As the ANC win is digested, markets will swiftly shift their focus to the subsequent actions of the ruling party, including the announcement of cabinet as well as policies relating to expropriation of land without compensation,” said Bianca Botes, corporate treasury manager at Botes Peregrine Treasury Solutions.
With promises to fight graft, improve public services, put people into jobs and hasten land reforms, Ramaphosa won an internal party leadership election in December 2017, narrowly defeating a faction allied with former head of state Jacob Zuma. Ramaphosa replaced the scandal-plagued Zuma as President of Africa’s most advanced economy three months later.
But his efforts have been constrained by divisions within his own party, where some Zuma supporters still retain influence and oppose his agenda. “People have shown they are willing to forgive the ANC,”said Ronald Lamola, a member of the ANC’s top governing body. “We are looking at a clear mandate for our policies.”
The ANC achieved its best parliamentary election result in2004 under former president Thabo Mbeki, when it won more than69 percent of the vote. But its support fell under Zuma, and it lost control of big cities like Johannesburg, the commercial capital, in local government elections in 2016.
The party controls eight of the country’s nine provinces. The DA has controlled the Western Cape since the 2009 vote.
The partial results showed ANC ahead in Gauteng province, where South Africa’s biggest city Johannesburg and the administrative capital Pretoria are located, while the DA led in the Western Cape, home to Cape Town, where parliament resides.
Election officials said voting in general had progressed smoothly but that there had been isolated disruptions caused by bad weather, unscheduled power outages or community protests.
|AIWA! NO!|CAPE TOWN – President Cyril Ramaphosa has promised land expropriation without compensation will not be carried out through land grabs. He says the process will be done within the confines of the law. He was assuring investors.
“Our country is based on a rule of law. We have got strong institutions that don’t only protect investors, but people,” said Ramaphosa.
He said the people have turned to the courts each time they wanted to take on the government.
“Land reform is conducted through the most judicious manner in our structures including Parliament,” said Ramaphosa.German President Frank-Walter Steinmeier, who is in the country on a state visit, told Ramaphosa on Tuesday that South Africa would remain attractive to investors.
He said he will encourage more German companies to invest in South Africa.
Steinmeier said there were currently more than 500 German companies in South Africa and they employ more than 100 000 people.
The Constitutional Review Committee in Parliament last week adopted the report on the expropriation of land without compensation.
The report will be debated in the Chamber next week.
But opposition parties have promised to challenge the report in court. They have argued the process followed did not follow all procedures required including dealing with the 700 000 written submissions.
Zulu King Goodwill Zwelithini has said the group will cooperate with South African minority rights group AfriForum.
“The Zulu nation I’m talking about will not exist if we don’t have food. That’s why I say farmers must come closer so that we discuss what we can do when we talk about agriculture and the availability of enough food in the land. That’s why I’m asking AfriForum of the Boers to come and help us,” Zwelithini said, as quoted by eNews Channel Africa.
Zulu people are the largest ethnic group inth an estimated 10-12 million people living mainly in the province of KwaZulu-Natal. The group accounts for more than a fifth of the country’s population and its opinion is important in the context of the general elections next year. South Africa, wi
“Anyone who wants to be voted for and elected by us, I’m going to talk now, anyone who wants to be elected by us must come and kneel here and commit that I will never touch your land,” the Zulu King said.
While kings have no official power in modern South Africa, they still have the loyalty of millions of people and are recognized in the constitution as traditional leaders.
The land expropriation program run by President Cyril Ramaphosa is designed to redistribute land to poor black people to tackle severe inequality 24 years after the end of apartheid. It mostly involves lands owned by Boers, whites primarily of Dutch descent. However, the program has aroused discontent among the Zulus, too.
The Zulu King said he is waiting for a meeting with the president. “He (Ramaphosa) must come here… and say it, write it down in an agreement and sign off that the land of the Zulus will not be touched,” Zwelithini said.