South African elections: ANC loses its 30-year majority

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — The African National Congress The party lost its parliamentary majority on Saturday in a historic election result that puts South Africa on a new political path for the first time since the end of the apartheid system of white minority rule 30 years ago.

With more than 99% of the votes counted, the The once dominant ANC had received just over 40% in Wednesday’s election, well below the majority it had had since the famous 1994 multiracial vote that ended apartheid and brought him to power under Nelson Mandela. The final results have yet to be formally declared by the independent electoral commission that ran the election, but the ANC cannot approve the 50% mark.

At the start of the election, the commission said it would formally declare results on Sunday, but that could happen sooner.

While opposition parties have hailed the result as a momentous breakthrough for a country struggling with deep poverty and inequality, the ANC remained, in some ways, the largest party. However, he will now likely have to look for one or more coalition partners to remain in government and re-elect President Cyril Ramaphosa for a second and final term. Parliament elects the South African president after the national elections.

“The way to rescue South Africa is to break the ANC majority and we have done that,” said main opposition leader John Steenhuisen.

The road ahead promises to be complicated for Africa’s most advanced economyand there is still no coalition on the table.

Steenhuisen’s Democratic Alliance party won around 21% of the vote. The new MK Party of former president Jacob Zuma, who has turned against the ANC he once led, came third with just over 14% of the vote in the first election in which he participated. The Economic Freedom Fighters came in fourth place with just over 9%.

More than 50 parties They contested the election, many with a small proportion of the vote, but the DA and MK appear to be the obvious ones for the ANC, given how far they are from a majority. What coalition is the ANC pursuing? This is the urgent focus now, given that Parliament needs to meet and elect a president within 14 days of the official declaration of the final election results. A series of negotiations are expected to take place that are likely to be complicated.

Steenhuisen has said his centrist party is open to discussions. The MK Party said one of its conditions for any deal was that Ramaphosa be removed as leader and president of the ANC. That underscored the fierce political battle between Zuma, who resigned as South African president under a cloud of corruption allegations in 2018, and Ramaphosa, who replaced him.

“We are willing to negotiate with the ANC, but not with Cyril Ramaphosa’s ANC,” MK Party spokesperson Nhlamulo Ndlela said.

MK and the extreme left Fighters for economic freedom They have called for parts of the economy to be nationalized. He Democratic Alliance It is seen as a pro-business party and analysts say an ANC-DA coalition would be more welcomed by foreign investors, although there are questions about whether it is politically viable considering the DA has been the most critical opposition party for years.

An ANC-DA coalition “would be a marriage of two drunks in Las Vegas. It will never work,” Gayton McKenzie, leader of the smaller Patriotic Alliance party, told South African media.

Despite the uncertainty, South African opposition parties They praised the new political landscape as a much-needed change for the country of 62 million inhabitants, which is the most developed in Africa but also one of the most unequal in the world.

South Africa has widespread poverty and extremely high levels of unemployment and the ANC has fought to raise the living standards of millions of people. The official unemployment rate is 32%, one of the highest in the world, and poverty disproportionately affects black people, who make up 80% of the population and have been the core of ANC support for years.

The ANC has also been blamed (and now punished by voters) for a failure in basic government services. that impacts millions and leaves many without water, electricity or adequate housing.

Nearly 28 million South Africans were registered to vote and turnout is expected to be around 60%, according to figures from the independent electoral commission.


Imray reported from Cape Town, South Africa.


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