The African National Congress faced its toughest electoral test yesterday as it sought to reverse a slide in support from voters frustrated by graft and racial inequalities a generation after it won power in South Africa’s first all-race poll.
South Africa yesterday held parliamentary and provincial elections amid frustration with a lack of progress 25 years after Nelson Mandela’s ANC swept to power at the end of white minority rule in 1994. Queues built up at polling stations through the morning. Some polling stations around Johannesburg opened late or did not have voting materials. Officials have said the results could be announced on Saturday.
The national election is the first under President Cyril Ramaphosa, who replaced scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma as head of state in February 2018 after four years as his deputy. Opinion polls suggest the ANC will again win a majority of the 400 seats in the National Assembly, but analysts have predicted its margin of victory will fall.
The ANC’s biggest challengers are the main opposition party the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF). The ANC won 62 percent of the vote in 2014’s parliamentary election, down from 2009 and far short of its best result, 69 percent in 2004 under President Thabo Mbeki.
Analysts have put that falling support down to corruption allegations against government officials, a slowing economy with one of the highest unemployment rates in the world, and demands from black citizens for more equitable distribution of land.