Accessibility links

South Africa Celebrates Freedom Day After Successful Elections


South Africans are celebrating the 15th anniversary of the end of apartheid, as well as the conclusion of successful national elections, which were swept by the ruling African National Congress.

Thousands of South Africans packed a sports stadium in Durban to celebrate Freedom Day, the day 15 years ago when they gave the African National Congress a sweeping victory in the country's first post-apartheid elections.

The ANC also scored a landslide victory last week in the fourth elections since the end of apartheid. Its leader, Jacob Zuma, is to become South Africa's next president when the new parliament convenes on May 6.

ANC officials have declined to comment on the composition of the new cabinet. But Mr. Zuma said in his victory speech Saturday night that good governance will be a major goal.

"The incoming cabinet will be required to turn the public service into efficient, effective and very caring machinery that will respond effectively to the needs of our people," he said.

Officials say a powerful planning commission is to be formed to oversee government performance.

Analysts say Mr. Zuma faces a major challenge in balancing the demands of social-minded groups with the need to reassure financial markets.

Election officials Saturday announced that the ANC had won nearly 66 percent of the vote nationwide, giving it 264 seats in the 400-seat parliament. But that was three seats short of the two-thirds majority that would have given it the power to amend the constitution unilaterally.

The opposition Democratic Alliance received 16 percent of the vote, up four percent from the last elections. And the DA won a majority of the seats in the provincial assembly of Western Cape.

DA leader Helen Zille, who is expected to head the provincial government, announced she would resign as mayor of Cape Town on Wednesday.

Zille indicated on national television that she would invite other opposition figures to join her administration.

"What I do plan to do is to request talented and able individuals from other opposition parties to join us in government," she said. "That is not strictly speaking a coalition. It is a government of the best individuals."

The Congress of the People, formed four months ago by disgruntled former ANC leaders, won seven percent of the national vote and became the leading opposition party in several provinces.

The success of COPE and the DA came at the expense of smaller parties, like the Inkatha Freedom Party and the Independent Democrats, whose support declined in many areas.

XS
SM
MD
LG