8 May 2014

South Africa: Ruling ANC Party Maintains Early Lead

Photo: Werner Beukes/Sapa
Voters wait to cast their ballots in troubled Bekkersdal on the West Rand.

Initial results from South Africa's national elections have the current ruling party, the African National Congress, in the lead. Voter turnout has been estimated at around 70 percent.

South Africa's national election commission released the first results on Thursday of national elections that took place a day before. With nearly a third of the vote counted, the commission placed the African National Congress (ANC) in the lead with about 58 percent of the vote. The opposition Democratic Alliance has so far polled 28.5 percent. The Economic Freedom Party, which is new to African politics, came in a distant third with around 4 percent.

Wednesday's vote was the fifth poll to include all races since the end of apartheid in 1994. The African National Congress is the party of Nelson Mandela, the country's first black president, and the party of the current president, Jacob Zuma.

Zuma's approval ratings had dipped since the country's top anti-graft agency accused him of "benefiting unduly" from a $23-million (16.5-million-euro) state-funded security upgrade to his private home in Nkandla. The 72-year-old, however, has brushed aside suggestions the probe was damaging the party.

The ANC won 65.9 percent of the vote in South Africa's last national election in 2009. The Democratic Alliance is set to make large gains on the 16.7 percent it won five years ago. This year, around 25 million people - about half of the population of South Africa - turned out to vote. This included several hundred thousand first-time voters from the "Born Free" generation, who grew up after apartheid was abolished.

mz/kms (Reuters, AFP, AP)

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