South African Election Update: ANC Leads.
Thursday, April 23rd, 2009.
Results from South Africa’s fourth democratic election began flowing in following a vote that will probably reaffirm the ruling African National Congress’s dominance over Africa’s largest economy.
Opinion polls show the ANC winning as much as 67 percent of ballots cast, which would enable the party to install Jacob Zuma, who successfully fended off corruption charges, as president. The ANC won 69.7 percent support in 2004.
The Independent Electoral Commission began releasing results at its central counting station in Pretoria almost two hours after polls officially closed at 9 p.m. last night. Early results showed the ANC winning 62.5 percent of 1.76 million national votes tallied by 5:52 a.m.and its main rival, the Democratic Alliance, 20.2 percent. The Congress of the People, formed in the wake of a power struggle for the ANC between Zuma and former President Thabo Mbeki, garnered 7.7 percent.
Forty parties competed for seats in the 400-member national parliament and nine provincial legislatures. Almost 23.2 million people were eligible to cast ballots. The electoral commission expects to complete most of the count by April 24, and has to declare a final result within seven days.
Early results showed the ANC leading with an outright majority in eight provinces. The DA was ahead in the Western Cape with 49.9 percent of the vote, and was in second place in six other provinces.
Dropped Charges Zuma, 67, won control of the ANC from Mbeki, 66, in December 2007, setting him on course to become the nation’s leader. The president is elected by Parliament, with the vote scheduled for May 6 and the presidential inauguration for May 9.
For the past eight years, prosecutors probed allegations that Zuma took bribes from arms dealers. They dropped charges on April 6 after Zuma’s lawyers supplied them with tapes made by a government spy agency showing that the chief investigator used the case to frustrate Zuma’s bid to win control of the ANC.
Since 1994, the ANC government says it has more than quadrupled the number of poor children and pensioners qualifying for social welfare grants to 12.5 million of South Africa’s 48.7 million residents. It has also given 18.7 million people access to clean water and subsidized housing to 9.9 million. .
The ANC won South Africa’s first three democratic elections, increasing its share of the vote each time, and currently controls all nine provinces. This year, it may win about 67 percent, and the DA 13 percent, up from 12 percent in 2004. .
Fifteen years after the end of all-white rule, the black majority still credits the ANC with vanquishing apartheid. Loyalty to the party has been reinforced by its provision of welfare grants to one in four South Africans, while the opposition hasn’t capitalized on the ANC’s struggle to create jobs and curb one of the world’s highest crime rates.
South Africa has a murder rate seven times that of the U.S. and an unemployment rate of 21.9 percent.