10 May 2014

South Africa: ANC Wins Elections Despite Opposition Gains

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

The incumbent African National Congress (ANC) has won South Africa's fifth post-apartheid election, according to provisional results. But the opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) has made major gains.

The ANC won an overwhelming 62.2 percent of the vote, according to provisional results released by the South African electoral commission on Friday. As a consequence, Jacob Zuma is set to serve a second, five-year term as president.

Although the ANC's victory was decisive, it's showing in Wednesday's election was weaker compared to its previous performances. The party of late anti-apartheid leader Nelson Mandela had won 65.9 percent of the vote in 2009.

Opinion: South Africa postpones radical change

Nelson Mandela's African National Congress (ANC) suffered only small losses and stays in power. The opposition made some gains but remains weak. Nevertheless, things will not remain the same, says DW's Claus Stäcker. (09.05.2014)

Meanwhile, the pro-business DA managed to increase its share of the vote from 16.7 percent to 22.2 percent. The DA also traces its roots back to the anti-apartheid movement. Its supporters are historically mostly whites, Indians, and South Africans of mixed descent.

"We are on track to achieve our historic mission of realigning politics and unseating the ANC from national government in the next decade," party leader Helen Zille said.

ANC dominance weakens

The far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party trailed in third place with just 6.3 percent of the vote. But the EFF called its result "a great inspiration." The party supports confiscating white-owned land without compensation.

The ANC has dominated South Africa's politics since the end of apartheid more than 20 years ago. Although the party remains respected for the role it played in peacefully ending white-minority role, its hegemonic position has slowly declined over the years.

South Africa suffers from high crime and a 24 percent unemployment rate. President Jacob Zuma has also come under scrutiny for spending more than $20 million (14.5 million euros) of taxpayer money to renovate his rural homestead. Zuma claims the money was used to upgrade security.

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