South Africa is heading to the polls as residents from all walks of life take part in the country’s latest general elections.
The elections, which take place throughout the day on Wednesday May 8th, will determine the country’s president for the next four years. Voting on the day will also determine which political party will have control over South Africa’s nine provinces.
This year’s vote is significant in that it comes exactly 25 years after the fall of Apartheid. It also comes at a time when the ruling African National Congress (ANC) faces what could be its toughest poll yet, as the party is beset with rampant corruption cases.
The ANC has been in power since 1994, and while it will most likely win with a majority of the votes, the party may not enjoy the polling superiority enjoyed in previous elections.
The party has been tarnished by widespread corruption scandals and a national unemployment rate of 27%. These, and other factors, have left many voters disillusioned. ANC head, President Cyril Ramaphosa, has campaigned on promises to clean up his party, an acknowledgment of the problems that forced his predecessor to resign last year.
The ANC also has vowed to embark on a programme of seizing white-owned land without compensation, for which it needs a 67% majority to change South Africa's constitution.
In the most likely scenario, the ANC will need to form a coalition government with another party to get the votes needed to alter the constitution. That is likely to be the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which is a populist, left-wing party that also supports land seizures.
If the ANC's share of the vote should drop below 60%, Ramaphosa could be vulnerable. This means his party could choose to remove him from the position and replace him with a new party leader.
The largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), has campaigned vigorously against corruption. One of the major stumbling blocks facing the DA is its lack of support among the country’s black majority. This is because many still perceive the DA as being a white-run party, despite the DA being headed by Mmusi Maimane, who is himself a black man.
Then there are more than 40 smaller parties also are vying for power in the balloting.
The country's young voters, who make up about 20% of the electorate, largely support the EFF. The party is led by the firebrand Julius Malema, who broke from the ANC six years ago.
Neither the president nor the parliament is elected directly. Voters cast ballots for a national party and the number of votes won by each party will be used to determine how many representatives are sent to the legislature. The president is the leader of the party that gets the most votes.
According to AP, South Africa is famed for its long lines of voters. But a rising sense of national apathy could be an ominous indicator of the future for the ANC.
Preliminary results will be announced from the electoral commission in the capital, Pretoria, and final results are not expected for 48 hours after voting closes.