With ballots counted in 43 percent of the 22,263 voting districts so far, the ANC’s support stood at 61.5 percent, according to provisional figures released by the Independent Electoral Commission. The main opposition Democratic Alliance won 24.5 percent, while the Economic Freedom Fighters, a party that was formed in October last year by expelled ANC youth leader Julius Malema, was in third place with 4.5 percent.
The ANC will win 63.7 percent, the DA 21.9 percent and the EFF 4.6 percent, according to a mathematical model by the Pretoria-based Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, which has used early results to predict previous elections to within 0.5 percent of the actual figures.
“The ANC really runs a very good campaign in rural areas and none of the other parties do,” Mari Harris, a political analyst at research company Ipsos, said by phone from Johannesburg. “In a lot of cases, the only politicians people there see are ANC politicians.”
Twenty years after taking power under Nelson Mandela, the ANC still enjoys strong backing among the country’s black majority for ridding the country of white minority rule. The party has bolstered its support by providing welfare grants to almost one in three of the country’s citizens and increasing access to housing, water and electricity. It won 66 percent of the vote in 2009 compared with the DA’s 17 percent.
Even so, the ANC’s dominance may be eroded by a 25 percent unemployment rate and growing impatience among poor communities that are still waiting for living conditions to improve. There were 214 protests in the first quarter over the lack of housing, decent sanitation and other services, according to data from the Pretoria-based Institute for Security Studies.
The CSIR’s predictions tally with a poll released by Ipsos on May 2, which showed 63 percent of 3,370 registered voters interviewed in February and March supported the ANC, while 22 percent backed the DA and 5 percent the EFF.
The ANC will also remain in charge of eight of South Africa’s nine provinces, while the DA will strengthen its control over the Western Cape, according to the CSIR. Voter turnout probably fell five percentage points to 72 percent, its lowest yet, the CSIR model predicts.
“The ANC has not been weakened significantly,” CSIR mathematician Hans Ittmann said in an interview in Pretoria today. “Its share of the vote has decreased by about two percent, but it’s not huge.”
Victory for the ANC would assure a second and final term for President Jacob Zuma, who has been accused by the nation’s graft ombudsman of unduly benefiting from a state-funded 215 million-rand ($21 million) upgrade of his private home. Zuma denies any wrongdoing.
“At 63 percent Mr. Zuma is still safe,” Theo Venter, a political analyst from North-West University, said in an interview at the IEC’s results center in Pretoria. “If the ANC falls below 60 percent then Mr. Zuma will have more problems than he would be able to cope with, because someone will have to take the blame for the drop in support.”
The ANC has pledged to create 6 million “job opportunities,” build 1 million homes for the poor, improve education and health care and give black citizens a bigger stake in the economy over the next five years.
The rand gained a third straight day, adding 0.3 percent to 10.4179 per dollar by 10:10 a.m. in Johannesburg. Yields on government bonds due December 2026 dropped 16 basis points, or 0.16 percentage point, to 8.18 percent, the lowest since Dec. 24 on a closing basis.
Twenty-nine parties participated in the contest for the 400 seats in the national legislature, which elects the president, and 25.4 million people registered to cast ballots.
The election will also decide the composition of nine provincial legislatures. The IEC must announce final results within seven days.
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