South Africa: Election - Voting Underway in Watershed South Africa Election

MILLIONS of South Africans have gone to the polls in what is certainly is the most significant general election since independence in 1994.

About 26,7 million people are registered to participate during the sixth general elections. This includes 11 000 prison inmates.

A total of 22 924 voting stations opened on Wednesday from 7:00am until 21:00hrs (9.00pm).

A total, 48 parties are contesting.

Political leaders set an example by taking early to the polling stations.

Democratic Alliance (DA) Leader, Mmusi Maimane, cast his vote in Dobsonville, Soweto.

"I am voting for change today. I am voting for the almost 10 million South Africans who don't have jobs," Maimane said.

Incumbent, President Cyril Ramaphosa and his wife, Dr Tshepo Motsepe, cast their votes at Hitekani Primary School, Chiawelo, Soweto, where he spent his early life.

His African National Congress (ANC) aims to retain power.

Ramaphosa said the election was a milestone in South Africa's development.

"It is our duty as citizens to exercise our hard-won right to determine the direction in which the country moves. Our vote ensures that our democracy remains vibrant and inclusive," he said.

Leader of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) Julius Malema cast his vote at Mponegele Primary in Seshego, Limpopo.

His wife, Mantwa, accompanied him.

Unemployment and poverty are rife in Africa's most advanced economy that is also beset by corruption. Service delivery protests marred preparations for the election.

Local trading volumes were thin as the market awaits polling results.

While the counting of ballots will begin promptly after voting stations close on Wednesday night, final results will be announced on Saturday.

The volatile Rand currency opened the week at 14,44 to the United States Dollar, 18,81 to the British Pound and 16,07 to the Euro.

"We've long held that the nominal exchange rate is perhaps not the best barometer of political risk ahead of this general election, with expectations largely priced into USD/ZAR," said Nema Ramkhelawan-Bhana, Rand Merchant Bank economist.

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