Sat, May 21, 2011 - Page 7 News List

ANC wins S Africa polls, but DA gains

HOLLOW VICTORY?Increased support for the opposition party could spell trouble for South African President Jacob Zuma when the ANC chooses a leader next year

Reuters, JOHANNESBURG

South Africa’s African National Congress (ANC) has taken the most votes in local government elections, but big gains by the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) show voters’ anger with corruption in the ruling party and its failure to provide basic services, analysts said yesterday.

The ANC, which has ruled Africa’s largest economy for almost 20 years since apartheid ended, had secured 63.5 percent of the vote by early yesterday. Analysts expect the final result to show it has less than the 67 percent it gained in the 2006 elections.

The DA saw its support jump from 14 percent in 2006 to 22.2 percent, with almost all votes counted.

A drop in support for the ANC is unlikely to bring major policy changes, but it could jeopardize South African President Jacob Zuma’s chances of re-election when his party chooses a leader next year. The ANC may also seek to win back disenchanted voters by increasing spending.

Final audited results for the election, held on Wednesday for 278 municipalities, including major metropolitan areas, could be released by the weekend.

Led by former journalist Helen Zille, the DA has set out to use its administration of the major urban area and tourist destination Cape Town to show it can govern better than the ANC.

“Only 8 percent of registered voters are white. Do the simple math, white people are not the only ones who voted for the DA,” Zille said in an interview on Talk Radio 702.

Despite investing billions of dollars in infrastructure, the ANC-led government has struggled to address apartheid-era problems, with nearly half the population living in poverty.

Reports of senior officials using political positions and connections in the ruling party to amass personal wealth could have contributed to the drop in support.

“The ruling party has lost ground. They are acknowledging delivery failures, internal conflicts and corruption,” independent political analyst Nic Borain said. “Implicitly, the ANC knows this election will have an effect; the ruling party must clean up its act.”

“There is no party that won’t be concerned if it drops even one point. Wait until the final result is out,” ANC spokesman Jackson Mthembu said.

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