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Provisional Results of South Africa General Election Expected Friday

The leader of South Africa's ruling African National Congress (ANC), Jacob Zuma is expected to officially declare victory Friday from Wednesday's general election. With over 70 percent of the results released by the Independent Electoral Commission, the ANC has taken an expected commanding lead with the official opposition Democratic Alliance in second place. The breakaway Congress of the People (COPE), which was expected to pose a stiff challenge to the ruling ANC is placed third while other opposition parties trail the pack. Some observers believe the final results would be known today although political parties have a two day window to challenge results.

Xolani Xundu, political editor of the South African Broadcasting Cooperation told VOA the youth played a significant role in a possible ANC landslide win.

"South Africans are looking forward to hearing the final results to who has won within the parties that have contested the elections. And we are expecting to get a clearer picture late in the afternoon in terms of the percentages. But as things stand at the moment, we have the ruling African National Congress with 66 percent of the vote and that released to the total number of voting districts that have been declared, which is around 71 percent," Xundu said.

He said other opposition parties are trailing the ruling party with over 70 percent of the results so far released by the electoral body.

"The official opposition Democratic Alliance is currently sitting at 16 percent of the total vote with the newly formed Congress of the People (COPE) sitting around seven comma seven percent and then the IFP (Inkatha Freedom Party) sitting around three point six percent. So, what is clear is that the ruling African National Congress is going to take this election with a comfortable and a decisive majority," he said.

Xundu said it is unclear if the ruling party could maintain overwhelming parliamentary majority that would allow it to single handedly amend the constitution without help from the opposition.

"It remains to be seen whether it is going to be the two-thirds that it has achieved in the last election in 2004 where it got 69 comma six percent of the vote," Xundu said.

He said the ruling party has been celebrating after describing its success in the election as a decisive victory.

"So celebrations have started already. Last night there was a victory sort of rally, but the big one is coming this (Friday) evening where the ANC president is going to officially declare victory and that is what we are looking forward to today," he said.

Xundu said the rest of the results left would not significantly change the trend of those so far released by the electoral body.

"Most of the results that are outstanding at the moment are about 29 voting districts…it's unlikely if there is any change you know it will be marginal because you are looking at areas like Western Cape, Durban, it will be very marginal. I mean it's unlikely that from that 66 percent it can go to around 64 percent that's why I am saying that it is likely to go up instead actually with two-thirds majority. Because the party (ANC) has campaigned vigorously and the campaign started early than most… speaking to ordinary people about their problems and how it wants to solve those problems," Xundu said.

He said the breakaway opposition COPE was unable to attract what some political observers have described as the crucial youth vote.

"I don't think it did. One thing the ANC has managed to do is to paint them (COPE) as people who were disgruntled because of those who left after losing power in Polokwane. And the internal battles, you know, the leadership wrangles within the new party also didn't help because there were fights over who should lead the party through this election...and it delayed the party from kicking off its election campaign. It kicked in very late early this year when the ruling party and other parties were already ahead. So it's a combination of many factors," he said.

Xundu said throughout the election campaign, the ruling party presented itself as a viable party capable of solving the problems of the ordinary South African.

"The ANC has that appeal to the majority of people in this country that it is the only party that can deliver social and economic transformation, the party that is tested, the party that has the policies and the background really to take the country forward. So, that youth vote was very critical," Xundu said.

Campaigning ahead of the general election, opposition parties accused the ANC of moving too slowly over the last 15 years to improve people's lives who they claimed live in abject poverty, unemployment and an AIDS epidemic. But the ruling party said it was committed to creating jobs and a stronger social safety net.

Meanwhile, the ruling African National Congress began victory celebrations Thursday after latest results showed the ANC edging towards keeping its two-thirds majority, which would enable the party to change the constitution and entrench its power further. Results from a number of ANC strongholds were still outstanding.

The Opposition parties hoped to prevent the ruling party from getting two-thirds parliamentary majority that allows it amend the constitution and entrench its hold, but with over 70 percent of the vote counted it was unclear that would be the case.

Jacob Zuma is widely tipped to become South Africa's next president after promising to tackle the escalating violent crime which observers say could mar next year's hosting of the soccer World Cup. He also reassured worrying foreign investors who fear trade union allies like the Communist party would push him towards the left at a time the continent's biggest economy could already be in a recession for the first time in 17 years.

Some political observers say the ANC received a significant boost ahead of Wednesday's election after the National Prosecuting Authority (NPA) dropped an eight year-old graft charges against party leader Jacob Zuma. Zuma and his supporters maintained the charges were politically motivated to prevent him from becoming South Africa's next president.

The opposition sharply differed saying the PA caved under political pressure from the ruling African National Congress. They contend that the dropping of the charges undermines the country's rule of law setting a dangerous precedent.