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Legislative elections in South Africa: the ANC has lost its absolute majority

After thirty years of rule in South Africa, the African National Congress (ANC), in power since the advent of democracy and Nelson Mandela's election in 1994, lost his majority absolute &agrav; the National Assembly.

According to the results of the Electoral Commission on Saturday, after counting 99.85% of the votes, President Cyril Ramaphosa's party received 40.21% of the votes in Wednesday's poll and recorded a scathing setback , dipping significantly below the critical 50% mark.

The largest opposition party (Democratic Alliance, DA) gathered 21.79% of the votes cast. The uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party of ex-president Jacob Zuma, born only a few months before the election, achieved a performance of 14.61%, while the left-wing radicals of the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) remained at 9.48%.

The final results of the most contested election in the country's democratic history are to be announced on Sunday but are already contested by certain candidates, notably Mr. Zuma.

Legislative elections in South Africa: the ANC has lost its absolute majority

A worker monitors voting results on a computer at the National Results Center of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in Midrand, South Africa on May 31, 2024. © AFP – Michele Spatari

“No one must declare (the results, editor's note) tomorrow. If that happens, you will provoke us”, warned the 82-year-old former president. His incarceration in July 2021 for contempt had caused unrest, which left more than 350 dead.

Until now, the all-powerful ANC had won every election national with a large majority. But the disillusionment of 62 million South Africans this time overcame a long-unfailing loyalty to the movement that liberated the country from the yoke of apartheid.

In the continent's second industrial power, unemployment affects a third of those of working age, particularly young people. Poverty is worsening and inequalities are widening, while crime regularly breaks its own records.

– Participation falling –

On a daily basis, the repeated water and electricity cuts remind us of the extent to which the dream of a nation with access for all to education, housing and basic services is promised by the ANC at the end of Apartheid, is still out of reach.

Worse, confidence has soared as the last few years have exploded multiple corruption scandals involving senior party leaders and fueling headlines.

Called to the polls on Wednesday, some 16 million voters turned out, many with anger that had been brewing for a long time: the ANC had already gathered only 57% of the votes cast in the last legislative elections of 2019, compared to 70% in 2004. .

Participation currently stands at 58.6%, down from 66% during the last election.

After the announcement of the final results, the 400 deputy seats will be distributed. The new Assembly will then have to sit in June to elect the next president.

Legislative elections in South Africa: the ANC has lost its absolute majority

ANC representatives follow live the results of the votes at the national results centre of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) in Midrand, on May 31, 2024 in South Africa © AFP – Michele Spatari

Faced with the emerging disputes, the president of the Electoral Commission Mosotho Moepya assured that his body would examine “everything that comes to them” and ordered the recount of votes in 24 cases.

“The commission will be ready to announce the results of these elections tomorrow” Sunday, he assured.

The ANC, which currently holds 230 seats (57.5%), remains the largest political party. But stripped of its stature as the dominant party, it will have to begin negotiations in the coming days.

– “No compromise” –

At this stage, speculation is rife about the formation of the next government, with experts and observers betting on the formation of a coalition government.

If the ANC decides to move closer to the DA, it will have to make concessions to the liberal movement which advocates privatizations and deregulation of the economy.

A rapprochement with the EFF and the provocateur Julius Malema would involve compromises on demands for radical reforms such as the uncompensated redistribution of land to black people and the nationalization of sectors key economics.

Legislative elections in South Africa: the ANC has lost its absolute majority

South Africa: the outgoing Parliament © AFP – Guillermo RIVAS PACHECO, Valentina BRESCHI

“We are not desperate and will not compromise on our demands and our principles,” Mr. Malema insisted on Saturday.

Largely in the lead with 45.90% of the votes in the province of KwaZulu-Natal (KZN, east), traditional stronghold of the ANC (17.64%) , the MK becomes the third force in the country. But President Cyril Ramaphosa, 71, and Jacob Zuma, 82, are old political enemies and an easing of relations between the two men seems unlikely.

The The idea that the ANC can continue to govern despite the loss of its absolute majority, on the basis of an agreement with certain parties on key aspects such as the budget or a commitment never to support a motion of censure, is also gaining ground .

“A minority government would be something completely new in South Africa but it is one option among others”, confirmed to AFP Helen Zille, in the DA head committee.

All rights of reproduction and representation reserved. © (2024) Agence France-Presse

Teilor Stone

By Teilor Stone

Teilor Stone has been a reporter on the news desk since 2013. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining Thesaxon , Teilor Stone worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my teilor@nizhtimes.com 1-800-268-7116