ANC takes commanding lead in South Africa’s election but support ebbs

PRETORIA (Reuters) – The African National Congress (ANC) strolled toward victory in South Africa’s election on Friday, partial results showed, though the party is on course for its worst performance in a national poll in its 25 years in government.

As of 2211 GMT, ballots in 69.98 percent of 22,925 voting districts had been counted. The tallies put the ANC on 56.61 percent in the parliamentary race, with the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) on nearly 23 percent and the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) on nearly 10 percent.

The former liberation party of Nelson Mandela has not won less than a 60 percent share of the vote since it swept to power in South Africa’s first all-race election in 1994, marking the end of white minority rule.

Based on the latest results from the Electoral Commission, analysts predicted the ANC was set for a vote share of between 55 percent and 59 percent.

A poor showing for the ANC would embolden opponents of President Cyril Ramaphosa and risk a potential challenge to his leadership, analysts have said. The elections are the first test of national sentiment since Ramaphosa replaced scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma as head of state in February 2018.

South Africans voting on Wednesday for a new parliament and nine provincial legislatures had expressed frustration at rampant corruption, high unemployment and racial inequalities that remain deeply entrenched.

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