South Africans waited on election results Thursday in a ballot that the ruling African National Congress party appeared on course to win in a landslide.
South African media reported Thursday that the ANC had won around 65 percent of the vote with one third of ballots counted. Rreports suggested the opposition Democratic Alliance could be on course to claim control of Western Cape province — but the ANC was ahead in the country’s eight other provinces. Final results are not expected until Saturday. All counting is done by hand in the country, which has 23 million registered voters. Members of parliament will elect the country’s president next month. The Independent Electoral Commission said the number of people voting on Wednesday created long lines and a shortage of ballot boxes and papers in some districts and voting stations. “We thank voters for their enthusiasm and patience as they waited to exercise their democratic right to vote,” commission Chairwoman Brigalia Bam said Wednesday. Although the ANC is widely expected to win, it remains to be seen how much ground the two main opposition parties — the Democratic Alliance and the Congress of the People — will gain, and whether the ANC will be able to hold onto its two-thirds parliamentary majority. The ANC, led by presidential candidate Jacob Zuma, has gained votes in every election since 1994, when the country held its first democratic election. But the Congress of the People — a breakaway faction of the ANC — threatens the ruling party’s grip on power. Voter shares feelings about ANC and new rival » The ANC has been dogged by allegations of corruption and has been accused of failing to deliver services to the poor. And Zuma until recently faced fraud and corruption charges. The country’s prosecuting authority dropped the charges two weeks before the elections, citing alleged political interference in the case. That decision sparked widespread outrage, with opposition parties accusing prosecutors of buckling under political pressure.
Twenty-six parties vied in Wednesday’s election. They included Islamic and Christian parties, and right-wing Afrikaaner and socialist groups. Learn more about some of South Africa’s political parties More than 5,000 domestic and international observers are monitoring the election, according to the electoral commission.