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S. Africa opposition reacts to latest election results

Main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) party leader, John Steenhuisen, delivers his speech at a final election rally in Benoni, South Africa. 26/05/2024   -  
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Themba Hadebe/Copyright 2024 The AP. All rights reserved.

South Africa

South Africa’s main opposition leader said Friday morning that breaking the African National Congress’s majority is “the way to rescue South Africa,” as 60% of votes have been counted with long-time ruling party ANC only holding just under 42%.

That represented a huge drop from the 57.5% it received in the last national election in 2019, although the final results from Wednesday's election have not yet been declared.

More than 50% is required in order for ANC leader, President Cyril Ramaphosa, to remain president under South Africa’s parliamentary system.

“They’re going to end up in the low forties,” said John Steenhuisen, leader of South Africa’s Democratic Alliance party. “And that obviously opens up a whole new universe for politics in South Africa.”

Opposition to the ANC

The Democratic Alliance, a centrist party, held more than 20% of the vote when Steenhuisen spoke from the IEC center.

Other major parties include the MK party, ran by former president Jacob Zuma, and the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters party ran by former ANC member Julius Malema.

Steenhuisen claimed that the DA has a multicultural voter base, stating that “If I look at our growth amongst Black South Africans, it’s doubled from the last election."

He added: "If I look to the parties to the left and right of me, they’re able to draw from very limited pools of voters, and they’re virtually monochromatic.”

Steenhuisen said he was open to working with the ANC, although he would have to first speak with a group of other parties that he has a pre-election agreement with.

Widespread discontent

The ANC first gained power in 1994, when the party, led by Nelson Mandela, won the first democratic elections in the country which signaled the end of Apartheid rule.

Widespread discontent with the ANC has spread in recent years, with many upset about the country’s unemployment and high cost of living.

The electoral commission has said that results are expected Sunday, though they could be announced sooner.

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