South Africa elections: ANC holds on to power despite plummeting support

‘We’ve made mistakes but we are sorry,’ says president

Zamira Rahim
Saturday 11 May 2019 17:10 BST
South African parliament breaks out into song as Cyril Ramaphosa is sworn in as President

South African president Cyril Ramaphosa’s political party has won the country’s parliamentary election, despite suffering a significant drop in support.

The African National Congress (ANC) held on to power in Wednesday’s ballot, winning 57.5% of the vote.

It was the party’s worst parliamentary result since it came to power in 1994 under civil rights leader Nelson Mandela.

Turnout also plummeted to 65%, with many South Africans reportedly frustrated by corruption scandals within the ANC.

Jacob Zuma, the country’s former head of state, was forced to resign in February 2018 after ANC members chose Mr Ramaphosa to replace him as party leader.

“We’ve made mistakes, but we are sorry about those mistakes, and we are saying our people should reinvest their confidence in us,” Mr Ramaphosa said on Wednesday.

The 66-year-old travelled across South Africa during the campaign to promote the ANC and has pledged to tackle political corruption.

“Ramaphosa was a game-changer for the ANC in this campaign. Voters trust that he can do things right,” said Fikile Mbalula, an executive member of the party.

Analysts say the election result means Mr Ramaphosa should be able to fend off a potential leadership challenge from party enemies aligned with Jacob Zuma.

But the president may struggle to push through his promised reforms, as support grows for the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) party.

The far-left party won the biggest gains in Wednesday’s election and may attempt to force Mr Ramaphosa into pursuing more radical policies in the next parliament.

Economic stagnation and continuing racial disparities in income and wealth have left many South African voters disillusioned.

Mr Rapahosa’s first full presidential term will begin later this month, following a nomination by his party caucus and an inauguration ceremony.

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Additional reporting by agencies

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