May 09, 2019
A supporter of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) puts up posters as she awaits election results in Diepkloof township in Johannesburg, South Africa, May 9, 2019. — Reuters pic
By Alexander Winning, Emma Rumney
PRETORIA (Reuters) – Results from nearly half of voting districts in South Africa’s election put the African National Congress on course to retain power but at risk of its worst performance in a national poll since the end of white minority rule 25 years ago.
“As long as the ANC gets more than 55 percent, things will be okay for Ramaphosa inside the ANC,” Verwoerd said.
The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, a government agency, also forecast a decline in support for the ANC, which it predicted would get just over 57 percent in the parliamentary vote and about 50 percent in the provincial polls.
Turnout on Wednesday was just over 65 percent, according to the votes processed so far, the Electoral Commission said.
ANC Deputy Secretary General Jessie Duarte said she expected the ANC’s vote share to grow as results from larger voting districts filtered through.
“By late afternoon we will know where we stand,” she said.
Duarte said voter turnout could end up below the 65-70 percent range the ANC estimated late on Wednesday when most polling stations had closed.
Chief Electoral Officer Sy Mamabolo said the Electoral Commission hoped that results from around 90 percent of voting districts would be declared by 10 pm local time (2000 GMT), with the remaining results to be released on Friday morning.
Ramaphosa is trying to arrest a slide in support for the ANC, whose image has been tarnished in the last decade by corruption scandals and a weak economy.
At the last election in 2014, the ANC won 62 percent of votes, the DA 22 percent and the EFF 6 percent.
The rand and government bonds firmed in early trade on Thursday, but traders said the currency was expected to be volatile as results emerge.
Election officials said voting had in general progressed smoothly but that there had been isolated incidents where bad weather, unscheduled power outages or community protests had caused disruptions.
The Electoral Commission said it was investigating two potential instances of double-voting but “will not allow the potential misconduct of one or two individuals to taint the overall outcome of these elections”.
Mamabolo said the commission would conduct an audit of votes in a sample of voting stations to ascertain whether double-voting had occurred, after allegations in some provinces such as KwaZulu-Natal.
The ANC achieved its best parliamentary election result in 2004 under former president Thabo Mbeki, when it won 69 percent of the vote. But its support fell under Zuma, and it lost control of big cities like the commercial capital Johannesburg in local government elections in 2016.
The party now controls eight of the country’s nine provinces, with the DA in power in the Western Cape. Analysts predict the provincial races for Gauteng, where Johannesburg and the administrative capital Pretoria are located, and the Western Cape, home to Cape Town, will be close.
Ramaphosa, who became ANC leader in December 2017 after narrowly defeating a faction allied with Zuma, has promised to improve poor public services, create jobs and fight corruption.
But he has been constrained by divisions within his own party, where some Zuma supporters still retain influence and oppose his agenda.