South Africa’s Early Voters Start Historic Election Week

Mon May 27 2024
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JOHANNESBURG: Early voting commenced in South Africa on Monday, kick-starting what could be a historic election week, with the ruling African National Congress’ majority on the line for the first time.

Over 600,000 of the elderly and infirm, along with essential workers, police and prisoners, deemed unable to cast votes on Wednesday were allowed to go to polling stations, AFP reported.

Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) presiding officer Pamela Nkosi said that in the Yeoville Recreation Centre in Johannesburg, early voting proceeded slowly but smoothly.

Only four of the two hundred people registered to vote at the station had been processed by 11:00 am (0900 GMT), two hours after polling started, but half a dozen more were waiting.

The rest of South Africa’s 27-million-strong registered electorate will be called on Wednesday, and opinion polls point to the ANC falling under 50% for the first time in thirty years of democracy.

If left with no absolute majority in the 400-seat National Assembly, President Cyril Ramaphosa will have to discuss support from other parties to return to power and maintain the ANC’s winning streak.

Full results are not likely before the weekend.

Electoral System of South Africa

Under South Africa’s post-apartheid constitution, MPs are elected on a party list system, and the executive president is picked from among their number in a vote by the Cape Town-based parliament.

If the ANC has fewer than 201 seats out of 400, Ramaphosa would have to talk with opposition parties and independent MPs to secure a majority and return to government headquarters in Pretoria.

After three decades in government as the lead party of the anti-apartheid struggle, the ANC finds its record under criticism.

Criticized for increasing crime and unemployment, and accused of overseeing corruption and rolling power cuts, Ramaphosa’s government is beset by both the liberal right and the radical left.

The centre-right Democratic Alliance has pledged to “Rescue South Africa” by rolling back the ANC’s race-based economic empowerment programmes and to boost growth through deregulation and privatisation.

From the left, he faces two groups that split from the ruling party, ex-president Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe and former ANC youth leader Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters.

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