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South Africans head to the polls in key municipal elections

South Africa

Over 26 million South African voters began lining early Wednesday, to cast their votes as polls opened for the hotly contested municipal elections.

The exercise which has widely been regarded as a key barometer on the nation’s mood ahead of the 2019 general elections, will see South Africans choose mayors and councillors for some 278 municipalities.

According to an opinion poll, the opposition has the best chance to win the election.

The results, most of which are expected on Thursday, may pile pressure on Zuma to step down before his second term ends in 2019, according to local media.

President Jacob Zuma’s ANC party still retains widespread support, especially in rural areas. But Zuma has been weakened by a series of corruption scandals, court cases and poor economic data.

Development in South Africa has been patchy since Mandela won the first multi-racial elections in 1994, with many black communities still struggling with poor housing, inadequate education and a lack of opportunities.

With the economy stalling and unemployment hitting record levels, the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) and the radical leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) both hope to secure major gains.

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