Article published on the 2009-04-23 Latest update 2009-04-23 09:12 TU
The ANC had a commanding lead of 63 per cent, with 12 per cent of the ballots counted. The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) had nearly 20 per cent, and the new opposition party Congress of the People (Cope) eight per cent.
These results should stay fairly stable, as votes continue to be counted, said RFI’s South African correspondent Jean-Jacques Cornish, though the ANC’s result may still go up.
“Rural votes will probably make it look a little higher in the end,” Cornish said.
The third-place finish for the ANC-breakaway Cope’s first election effort, will be “a little disappointing for it”, he said.
Voter turnout was at a record 77 per cent, as long line-ups were reported at the more than 20,000 polling stations.
“Anyone in line at 9 o’clock was allowed to vote and the last polling station closed at 3 [am local time], so there were some very long queues,” Cornish said.
The DA is leading in the Western Cape, and should win that province, piercing a hole in the ANC’s country-wide blanket of control.
“In this election, we make history by taking a province away from the ANC”, said DA leader Helen Zille. Tomorrow “we will win towns and cities from the ANC around South Africa. And In 2014 we will challenge them power country-wide.”
Zille also mentioned some irregularities at the polls, saying that ballot boxes weren’t big enough in some of their electoral strongholds.
Cornish reports that Zille was “was absolutely scathing about the problems encountered by the independent electoral commission”. The African Union (AU) election observation team did not agree and praised South Africa for an excellent campaign and election.
“What is exemplary is the whole process itself,” AU election observation team leader Salim Ahmed Salim told RFI, going on to cite “the independence of the election commission, the way it is functioning. The freedom of the media, the access to the media on the part of all the political parties, the free-wheeling discussion that have been going on among the political candidates. This is all very impressive.”
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