South Africans are standing in long lines to vote in a national election that is expected to confirm the dominance of the ruling party, the ANC. Witnesses at many of South Africa's nearly 20,000 polling places report a large turnout in the first few hours of voting today. Election officials say 23 million people are registered to vote. Surveys show the ANC is likely to win at least 60 percent of the vote, despite the challenge of a breakaway party, the Congress of the People (COPE).
English to Africa's reporter Darren Taylor is covering the election at a polling booth in Bochabela.
"I am just a few meters away from a house that's very important to South African history. It was in this house on the 8th of January 1912 almost a century ago that the Africa National Congress or ANC, South Africa ruling party was formed to oppose the then white colonialist government, to get rights for the country's black majority formed by ANC leader John Dube. Today, the people have been lined up over here, in queues for hours casting their votes, old, sick, lame, healthy people, young, old but what has been especially notable is the number of young, first time voters that I have noticed and I don't think since 1994 when we first voted for democracy have I seen so many young people, first time voters involved in the process".
He says there
is some truth in allegation s of voter intimidation against the opposition by
"People here are speaking anonymously, no one will dare go against the ANC in public, and they will rather stay away than risk being found having voted for COPE. There are certainly people here who while not being COPE members or supporters, certainly from what I've picked up are COPE sympathizers and they tell me very quietly within the confines of private areas that the ANC a few months back laid down the law here and spread the word around the community that those who show the slightest inclination to vote COPE will be considered traitors to the new South Africa and that serious consequences would follow".