Cape Town (South Africa): The ruling African National Congress (ANC) has won South Africa's parliamentary elections with 57.5 per cent of the vote, the electoral commission said, announcing the official results. The win assured a sixth straight term in power for the ANC. But the result was the worst-ever electoral showing for the party, which has ruled South Africa since the end of apartheid 25 years ago.
Support for the ANC has steadily declined since it took a record 69 per cent of the vote in 2004. This year's electoral performance comes amid growing voter frustration over rampant corruption and high unemployment rates.
President Cyril Ramaphosa, who replaced scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma last year, now faces the challenge of regaining public confidence in a party that remains beset with internal divisions and which oversaw a raft of economic crises in the country. The result, which gives the ANC 230 seats in the 400-member parliament, down from 249 in 2014, will renew pressure on Ramaphosa to decisively deal with cabinet ministers accused of corruption.
In a victory speech in the northern city of Pretoria, Ramaphosa said the election confirmed "freedom and democracy reign" in South Africa. "Our people have given all of the leaders of our country a firm mandate to build a better South Africa for all." Earlier in the day, Jessie Duarte, ANC deputy secretary-general, struck a more sombre tone, saying the party would move swiftly to counter corruption and increase economic growth.
"We need to correct our mistakes," she said, adding that the election showed voters want an "ANC that is united, and in its unity remains true to the values and principles on which it was founded."
The DA won 20.77 per cent of the vote, a two-per cent dip from 2014. However, it maintained its grip on the Western Cape province, which includes the city of Cape Town. Mmusi Maimane, the DA leader, said he was confident the party will continue to grow and do well in future votes. "Give us until 2021 and 2024. We can demonstrate that we can hold all South Africans together," he said.
The results also showed significant gains for the far-left Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which, with almost 11 per cent of the vote, polled about five percentage points higher than in its first election in 2014. The EFF is now the official opposition in three out of South Africa's nine provinces.
On the other side of the political spectrum, there were notable advances for the right-wing Freedom Front Plus, which took 10 seats in the parliament, up from four in the previous election.