South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ruling ANC was in touching distance of election victory on Friday, May 10 but with diminished support, complicating efforts to revive the country’s flagging economy and fight corruption, results showed.
The African National Congress (ANC), in power since 1994, held a very comfortable lead with nearly 57 percent after three-quarters of voting districts were officially tallied following Wednesday’s vote.
But the result would be the party’s worst national showing since Nelson Mandela led the ANC to victory in the first multi-racial polls after apartheid ended in 1994.
Ramaphosa, 66, took over last year when the party forced then-president Jacob Zuma to resign after nine years dominated by corruption allegations and economic problems.
He was expected to visit the Electoral Commission (IEC) results operation centre in Pretoria at 0800 GMT.
“We’re going to be the government, whether there is decline or increase,” said the ANC’s chairman Gwede Mantashe late on Thursday.
Results released by the IEC showed the ANC’s closest rival, the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) trailing with a distant 22 percent of the vote.
The Economic Freedom Fighters, founded six years ago by former ANC youth leader Julius Malema, was in third place with almost 10 percent.
Final results are expected to be officially certified on Saturday.
Jessie Duarte, the ANC deputy secretary-general, said the partial results were neither a “disappointment” nor a “surprise”.
“What I think is important to recognise is the deepening of our democracy,” she said at the IEC in Pretoria.
The party that wins the most seats in parliament selects the president, who will be sworn in on May 25.
“This is an election that will really offer the ANC a last chance to kickstart economic growth,” said analyst Daniel Silke. “The pressure is really on Ramaphosa in the next five years.”
Ramaphosa has so far faced resistance to his reform agenda, especially from Zuma’s allies who still occupy several high-ranking positions in the party and government.
Follow us on Twitter @aprecon
Follow on Instagram @_aprecon
Like our Page on FB @aprecon