ANC wins South African elections but vote share plunges

ANC wins South African elections but vote share plunges

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South Africa’s ruling African National Congress has won national elections but with its lowest ever share of the vote.

With all votes counted, the ANC had 57.5%, the electoral commission said.

President Cyril Ramaphosa declared the vote had given him and others “a firm mandate to build a better South Africa for all”.

It was the worst ever showing at the polls for the party of the late Nelson Mandela that has ruled since the end of the apartheid system of racial discrimination 25 years ago. The party won 62% of the vote in 2014.

Voter turnout was another low at 65%, reflecting the frustration of many South Africans after corruption scandals around the ANC that led former president Jacob Zuma to resign last year under party pressure. Turnout was 74% in 2014.

President Cyril Ramaphosa celebrates after the Independent Electoral Commission announced the final results

Mr Ramaphosa, a Mandela protege, has vowed to stop the rot and apologised to South Africans. But his new five-year term is threatened by Zuma allies within the ANC’s leadership, who could pressure the party to oust him from power.

Observers have said South Africa’s economy, the most developed in sub-Saharan Africa, would be further weakened if Mr Ramaphosa is removed by his own party. He narrowly won the party leadership in late 2017, weeks before Mr Zuma was pushed out.

Mr Ramaphosa’s image as a leader willing to rid the government of corruption helped the ANC’s election showing, political analyst Karima Brown said. “It’s a departure from a president who faced continuous allegations of corruption,” she said.

But ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, seen as leading the party faction opposed to Mr Ramaphosa, has said the victory could not be attributed to the president alone.

Widespread disillusionment over the ANC and long-standing issues of high unemployment and poor delivery of basic services had been expected to give top opposition parties a boost in Wednesday’s election. A record 48 parties were on the ballot.

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