June 16, 2024

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South Africa votes in an election that could bring about the biggest transformation since 1994

South Africa votes in an election that could bring about the biggest transformation since 1994

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South African voters voted Wednesday in schools, community centers and in large white tents set up in open fields. In the elections They are seen as the most important in their country for 30 years. It could place the emerging democracy in uncharted territory.

At stake are three decades of dominance African National Congress Partywhich led to the exit of South Africa from Brutal white minority rule under apartheid in 1994. Now she is the target of a new generation of discontent in a country of 62 million people – half of whom are estimated to live in poverty.

More than 50 countries will go to the polls in 2024

After casting his vote, South African President Cyril Ramaphosa said he had no doubt that the ANC would win a majority and remain in government.

The most developed economy in Africa has some of the world’s largest economies Deepest social and economic problems, including one of the worst unemployment rates at 32%. Persistent inequality, with poverty and unemployment disproportionately affecting the black majority, threatens to unseat the party that promised to end it by overthrowing apartheid under the banner of a better life for all.

“Our main issue here in our community is the lack of jobs,” said Samuel Ratchalengwa, who was near the front of the queue at the same school in the Johannesburg township of Soweto where Ramaphosa voted.

“We have to use voting to make our voices heard on this issue,” said Ratchalengwa, who went out before 7 a.m. on a cold winter morning.

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After winning six consecutive national elections, many opinion polls put the ANC’s support at less than 50% ahead of the current election, an unprecedented decline. He may lose his majority in parliament for the first time, although he is widely expected to hold the largest number of seats.

The ANC won 57.5% of the vote in the last national election in 2019, its worst result to date and down from a high of around 70% of the vote 20 years ago.

Voters line up to cast their ballots Wednesday, May 29, 2024, in the general election in Soweto, South Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Ramaphosa, leader of the African National CongressHe promised to “do better.” The ANC has asked for more time and patience.

Ramaphosa, 71, sat alongside other voters in Soweto, where he was born, before shaking hands with two smiling officials who registered him and then voted.

“I have no doubt in my heart that the people will once again invest confidence in the ANC to continue to lead this country,” Ramaphosa said. He said he was sure South Africans would give the ANC an “overwhelming majority”.

Any change in the ANC’s grip on power could be of great importance to South Africa. If it loses its majority, the ANC will likely face the prospect of having to form a coalition with others to remain in government and keep Ramaphosa as president for a second term. Never before has the ANC had to participate in governance.

Voters wait outside a polling station on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, during the general election in Kwa Mfana, South Africa.  South African voters cast their ballots in elections seen as the most important in their country in 30 years, an election that may put them in uncharted territory in the short history of their democracy, as the ANC's three-decade dominance has become the target of early elections.  A new generation of discontent in a country of 62 million people, half of whom are estimated to live in poverty.  (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Voters wait outside a polling station on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, during the general election in Kwa Mfana, South Africa. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

South Africans vote for parties, not directly for their president. Parties then get seats in parliament according to their share of the vote, and these legislators elect the president after the election. The ANC has always held a majority in Parliament since 1994.

Elections were scheduled to be held In one day across South Africa’s nine provinces, nearly 28 million people registered to vote at more than 23,000 polling stations. Final results are expected to be released by Sunday.

Opposition to the ANC in these elections is fierce, but fragmented. The two largest opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters, are not expected to increase their votes anything close to enough to overcome the ANC. The DA is part of an agreement with other smaller parties to merge their votes in a bid to remove the ANC entirely, but this is not seen as likely.

Disaffected South Africans move to a range of opposition parties; More than 50 people will compete in the national elections, many of them new. One is led by former South African President Jacob Zuma, who did just that He turned against his former allies in the ANC. Zuma has been disqualified from running for parliament, but his Knesset party is still in the running and is the winning card.

The ANC says it is confident of retaining its majority, and analysts have not ruled this out, given the party’s decades of experience in government and its unparalleled grassroots campaigning machine. He still enjoys broad support, especially among older voters and those living in rural areas.

“I woke up at 4 a.m. this morning, showered and headed out,” said Velaphi Banda, 68, adding that he had voted for the ANC since 1994 and would do so again. “I never hesitated about which party to vote for. I always knew.”

A woman casts her vote on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, during the general election in Kwamfana, South Africa.  South African voters cast their ballots in elections seen as the most important in their country in 30 years, an election that may put them in uncharted territory in the short history of their democracy, as the ANC's three-decade dominance has become the target of early elections.  A new generation of discontent in a country of 62 million people, half of whom are estimated to live in poverty.  (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

A woman casts her vote on Wednesday, May 29, 2024, during the general election in Kwamfana, South Africa. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Ramaphosa noted that South Africa is now a much better country than it was under apartheid, when black people were prevented from voting, were not allowed to move freely, had to live in designated areas and were persecuted in every way. This election is the seventh national vote in South Africa in which people of all races are allowed to participate.

Memories of that era of apartheid, and The decisive elections that ended it In 1994, he still photographed much of daily life in South Africa. But fewer remember that as time goes by, and this election may give a voice to a younger generation that was not born when apartheid fell.

The vote will highlight the country’s contrasts, from the economic hub of Johannesburg – described as Africa’s richest city – to the picturesque tourist destination of Cape Town, to the informal settlements of shanty towns on its outskirts.

There was a delay in opening some polling stations, as voting was scheduled to begin at seven in the morning and end at nine in the evening. South Africa has held peaceful and credible elections since violence escalated before pivotal elections in 1994. The Independent Electoral Commission said two days of special early voting went smoothly on Monday and Tuesday, although two people were arrested for interfering in voting operations.

Voters line up to cast their ballots Wednesday, May 29, 2024, in the general election in Soweto, South Africa.  South African voters cast their ballots in elections seen as the most important in their country in 30 years, an election that may put them in uncharted territory in the short history of their democracy, as the ANC's three-decade dominance has become the target of early elections.  A new generation of discontent in a country of 62 million people, half of whom are estimated to live in poverty.  (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Voters line up to cast their ballots Wednesday, May 29, 2024, in the general election in Soweto, South Africa. (AP Photo/Jerome Delay)

Authorities in South Africa said they will deploy nearly 3,000 soldiers across the country to ensure peaceful elections.

While 80% of South Africa’s population is black, it is a multiracial country with large numbers of whites, people of Indian descent, people of biracial heritage and others. There are 12 official languages.

It is the diversity that Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, was highlighted as a thing of beauty by referring to his country as the “Rainbow Nation.” It is a diversity that may now be reflected in its politics, with the emergence of several new opposition parties.

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Imray reported from Cape Town, South Africa and Motsaka reported from Ishwe, South Africa.

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IP Africa News: https://apnews.com/hub/africa