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ANC Set to Remain South Africa's Ruling Party


Sy Mamabolo, Chief Electoral Officer of the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), speaks at the podium at the results center in Pretoria, South Africa, May 9, 2019.

VOA's Anita Powell contributed to this story from Johannesburg.

South Africa's legendary ruling African National Congress (ANC) remains at the country's helm, the electoral commission confirmed Saturday.

But the ANC's grip on power has weakened as its share of Wednesday's vote declined from previous elections.

Overall voter turnout was also decidedly lower than the last election in 2014, falling to 66% from 73.5%. The decline is a reflection of lingering dissatisfaction with corruption scandals within the ANC and ongoing racial disparities in the country.

The ANC has won all six parliamentary elections since the nation ended apartheid in 1994.

This year, however, is the first time the ANC has won less than 60% of the vote. The electoral commission said Saturday it captured 57.5% of the vote.

In recent years, corruption scandals and the sluggish economy have tainted the ANC’s image and led some voters to defect.

But President Cyril Ramaphosa was undaunted by what appears to be a loss of confidence in the ANC. He said shortly after the results were announced the election was "a resounding expression of the will of the people of South Africa."

"Our people have given all the leaders of this country a firm mandate to build a better South Africa for all," Ramaphosa added. "Let us now work together, black and white, men and women, young and old, to build a South Africa that truly belongs to all who live in it."

The opposition Democratic Alliance also slipped in the polls, winning almost 21% of the ballots. In the 2014 elections, it won more than 22% of the votes.

The far-left Economic Freedom Fighters, in its second national election, earned slightly more than 10% of the votes which is more than EFF received in 2014.

EFF national chairperson Dali Mpofu said the party was thrilled to have topped its 2014 result, in which the party won 6% of the vote in its debut election.

What no one saw coming, however, was the surge in votes won by the Afrikaans-speaking VF Plus party, whose English name is Freedom Front Plus. The party’s aim is to create a homeland for the nation’s white Afrikaans-speaking minority. The fringe party surprised many casual observers by eclipsing its one-percent take in the 2014 election.

The new government will be formed later this month.