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Published: Sat, August 06, 2016
Economy | By Melissa Porter

South Africans still trust the ANC - Mthembu

South Africans still trust the ANC - Mthembu

Vote tallies are expected to trickle in throughout the day on Thursday, but the final national results are not expected before Friday.

However, despite being in prime position, the ANC risks losing control of some major urban areas, like the capital city Pretoria where its Democratic Alliance (DA) rival polled nearly 50 percent of the vote, while the ruling party won just 38.76 percent.

Results continue to trickle in but it's too early to call the outcome in Nelson Mandela Bay, Tshwane and Johannesburg, which are expected to be the most closely contested of the big metros.

"If you ask people in Nelson Mandela Bay what they voted for they said, 'We voted for change, '" DA leader Mmusi Maimane said.

The Democratic Alliance angered the ANC last month by declaring that it was the only party that could realize Mandela's dream of a "prosperous, united and non-racial South Africa".

A significant loss of support for the ruling party in these areas could mark a watershed in South African society and politics as the country shifts from what has effectively been a one-party system in the era immediately post-apartheid.

The results were seen as a marker ahead of the next general election due in 2019, which will include the presidency.

Ratings agency Fitch said in a statement that although the results may weaken Zuma, the president has built a strong network of support in the ANC's upper echelons "and there have been no clear signs that a majority of leaders could withdraw their support before the ANC conference in December 2017".

Fikeni explained that there had been debates within the ANC whether to use Zuma as the "face of the party or not".

ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa remained adamant that the ANC was "joyful" about their 54% overall support, but he was more cautious than the night before, when he described the party as "buoyant" and "energised" about the results.

Besides Mandela, who grew up in the nearby village of Qunu, the Port Elizabeth area was home to anti-apartheid luminaries such as former President Thabo Mbeki and his father Govan, and Steve Biko, the Black Consciousness leader killed in police custody in 1977.

Lihle Spani, a voter in Johannesburg, recalled that black South Africans were unable to vote during apartheid and that voting was a kind of tribute to those who had lacked basic rights.

In South Africa's 2014 general election, the ANC received 62 percent, down from almost 66 percent in 2009.

Zuma survived an impeachment vote in April after the Constitutional Court said he breached the law by ignoring an order to repay some of the $16 million in state funds spent on renovating his private home.

"This election has had much more independent and smaller political parties than there was ever, it is still a democracy of a thousand flowers that are blooming - what the EFF coming into being is doing, is putting the ANC at its place, that should not be interpreted with killing other opposition parties".

"All of this points at Zuma, ultimately the buck stops with him", Fikeni said.

It said it won the majority of votes in Port Elizabeth, Cape Town and the economically important Western Cape province, where Cape Town is located.

Julius Malema's radical Economic Freedom Fighters did well for a new entrant to the political scene, gaining 8% of the national vote.

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