The African National Congress (ANC) has emerged victorious in the South African general elections, winning with a 57.5% majority, provisional results show.
Despite its win however, this is the ANC’s worst performance since white minority rule ended in 1994.
ANC officials acknowledged the decline in support, but said results were still strong enough. “People have shown they are willing to forgive the ANC,” said Ronald Lamola, a member of the ANC’s top governing body told Reuters. “We are looking at a clear mandate for our policies.”
The party of former president and freedom fighter Nelson Mandela has been in power for 25 years and this is is the first time it has won less that 60% of the vote in the national elections.
The 2019 elections saw the ANC face its biggest challenge yet, with a notable portion of the electorate expressing anger at corruption scandals and entrenched racial inequalities.
Despite 26.7 million South African registered to vote – the highest number in the history of the country’s democracy – it was the nation’s worst turnout.
10 million South Africans had not registered to vote, many of those being young people who have voiced a sense of disillusionment with the current state of South African politics and what they see as unfulfilled promises from the governing party.
“We have two and a half decades of promises that were not fulfilled by politicians representing different political parties. All of the political parties in parliament, provincial legislatures, come here in campaign and promise people in Alex lies,” Benjamin Chisari, a resident of Alexandra Township, told CGTN.
“We are not voting because we have reached a stage where we want [politicians] to give what they promised,” he added.
While Chisari’s words appear to reflect the sentiments of many, Kate Bapela, President of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), refuted reports of disillusionment among youth, saying that the turnout of young people was notably high.
“We have had one of the nicest turn ups of young people. They young people of this country came out in large numbers, they even outshone the adult population,” Bapela told CGNT.
While the country’s elections have unfolded relatively smoothly, some reports have brought into question the integrity of the election process.
Twenty-seven smaller parties have threatened legal action following multiple incidents of voter fraud, centering on the ability of voters to remove the presumed indelible ink as well as allegations of double-voting.
Bapela guaranteed that the necessary steps have been taken to address the allegations. “We have an organisation called the HSCR, who have taken all the batched of our indelible ink to test and tell us if there was variety in the quality of the ink. If this is the case, then we will know where we can attribute the problem to,” she told CGTN.
Bapela also confirmed that a number of people have been arrested on allegations of double-voting.
Seats in parliament are allocated based on vote share and the party with the most representatives elects the president, who will be sworn in on May 25.
With ANC’s victory securing their party with enough seats in parliament to give President Cyril Ramaphosa another five years in office, eyes are now on Ramaphosa on whether he will live up to the promises he has made to the country.
However, analysts say the ANC’s diminished support could disable him from effectively battling party rivals local to Zuma, who oppose his reform agenda to strengthen the economy and combat corruption.