On the basis of 20 per cent of the votes, and with the results still coming in painstakingly slowly, computer projections showed the ANC would seize control of the national parliament and at least seven of the nine new provincial legislatures.
However, F W de Klerk's National Party (NP) scored a comfortable victory in the Western Cape, whose capital is Cape Town, and a doubt remained as to whether the ANC or Inkatha would seize political control of KwaZulu-Natal.
With only 2 per cent of the Kwazulu-Natal vote counted, mainly in the rural areas to the north of the province, Inkatha led by a large
margin, but it is in the urban areas that the ANC's strongest constituency resides.
Computer projections indicated that Inkatha, which has fared badly in other parts of the country, might secure the 5 per cent poll constitutionally required to claim a cabinet post in the new government of national unity. The NP looked likely to get five cabinet posts. The final result is not expected until late tonight or tomorrow, when all the possible 22.7 million ballot papers have been counted, officials said.
Johannesburg's Radio 702 forecast last night that the final outcome would be: ANC 56 per cent; NP 28 per cent; Inkatha 5 per cent; Freedom Front 3.6 per cent; Democratic Party (DP) 2.7 per cent; Pan-Africanist Congress (PAC) 1.2 per cent.
General Constand Viljoen's Freedom Front, which has been campaigning for an Afrikaner homeland, has performed better than expected, but the liberal DP and the radical PAC in particular, fell far short of opinion poll predictions.
The ANC's director of information, Pallo Jordan, predicted last night that his organisation would end up with 58 per cent, but privately ANC officials and independent political observers said they believed that once the results came in from big urban townships such as Soweto they might score more than 60 per cent.
Mr Jordan conceded that the ANC would not obtain the two-thirds
majority legally required for any one party to rewrite the constitution
The release of official results was accelerating last night, but counting remained a long way behind schedule in Johannesburg and Natal. The mass of results was held back by bureaucratic delays and muddle at many counting stations where officials were overwhelmed by numbers and their own inexperience.
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