As election officials tally the votes cast in yesterday’s national election, South Africans wait to hear if the results will be as expected. Citizens across the country are holding their breath to see if President Cyril Ramaphosa has been able to invigorate a lagging African National Congress (ANC), as reported by AFP.
The political party, which has been in power since 1994, has been beset in recent years by numerous corruption scandals. Adding to despair over the scandals are an increasing rate of unemployment and a sluggish economy, all of which have left voters disillusioned.
Ramaphosa (66) ascended to power of the ANC in the wake of former President Jacob Zuma being forced to resign from the presidency after nine years in power. Mounting claims of corruption and self-enrichment forced the former president to resign, allowing Ramaphosa to take over.
Preliminary results from the Wednesday, May 8th election, will begin emerging from Thursday, May 9th. Tallies will continue to emerge, along with various poll-projections, until Saturday, when the official winner will be declared.
The party that wins the most seats in parliament will then choose the country's president. Following this, the selected candidate will be sworn into office on May 25th.
"The outcome of this election will be a major boost for investors... and investor confidence, it's about confidence and about the future," said Ramaphosa after casting his voting on Wednesday.
"We apologise for our mistakes."
Support for the ANC has decreased in every election since 2004. The party secured just 54% of the national vote in the 2016 municipal elections, a sharp drop from the 62% secured in the 2014 national election.
Many opinion polls suggest the ANC could secure as much as 60% of Wednesday’s vote, but even this would be a drop from the previous election. Some polls have predicted that ANC support could dip to as low as 55%.
Dirk Coetzee, who is a professor at UNISA's political science department, said, "The higher the percentage for the ANC, the more it will give him (Ramaphosa) bargaining power."
"If Ramaphosa gets below 50% he will be very vulnerable" to challenges from rivals within the ANC, he added.
According to AFP, the ANC has been repeatedly confronted by a growing sense of anger from South Africans as a result of repeated failures to address poverty and inequality.
"We have given them 25 years but the poor are getting poorer and the rich richer," said voter Anmareth Preece (28), who is a teacher from Coligny in the North West province. "We need a government that governs for the people, not for themselves."
The economy grew just 0.8% in 2018 and unemployment is currently hovering around 27%. This number soars to over 50% among the country’s young people.
Of the 47 opposition parties in the race, there are only two main opposition parties. There is the main opposition party, the centrist Democratic Alliance (DA) and the radical-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
The DA is hoping to shed its image as a white, middle-class party. Its first black leader, Mmusi Maimane, is contesting his maiden general election since he rose to the top position within the party in 2015. He is expected to make modest gains on the DA's 2014 vote share of 22%.
The EFF, which was founded just six years ago by former ANC youth leader Julius Malema, is predicted to make major gains. Polls predict his party could grow from 6.3% to a possible 11%.
"The ANC has taken people for granted. There is some arrogance which has crept in," said voter Mandla Booi (45), who lives in Port Elizabeth.