South Africans vote in most competitive election since apartheid ended

May 30, 2024 6:40 am

[Source: Reuters]

South Africans voted on Wednesday in the most competitive election since the end of apartheid, with opinion polls suggesting the African National Congress could lose its parliamentary majority after 30 years in government.

Queues formed in the main cities of Johannesburg, Cape Town and Durban as polling got underway around 7 a.m. (0500 GMT), with lines also seen in the morning cold in townships on the outskirts of cities and in rural areas.

Voters at polling stations across the country cited high rates of unemployment and crime, frequent power blackouts and corruption in ANC ranks as reasons why they would vote for opposition parties.

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Young voters who did not live through apartheid were particularly disillusioned with the ANC and the country’s economic prospects.

Others however were wary of change.

Pensioner Charles Louw, 62, said he would remain loyal to the ANC as he distrusted the promises made by opposition parties to create jobs, end power cuts or crack down on crime.

Then led by Nelson Mandela, the ANC swept to power in South Africa’s first multi-racial election in 1994 and has won a majority in national elections held every five years since then, though its share of the vote has gradually declined.

If it falls short of 50% this time, the ANC will have to make a deal with one or more smaller parties to govern – uncharted and potentially choppy waters for a young democracy that has so far been dominated by a single party.

Voters are electing provincial assemblies in each of the country’s nine provinces, and a new national parliament which will then choose the next president.

With the ANC still on course to win the largest share of the vote, its leader President Cyril Ramaphosa is likely to remain in office.

More than 27 million South Africans are registered to vote at more than 23,000 polling stations, with voting due to end at 9 p.m. (1900 GMT).