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South Africa votes in an election that could bring about the biggest transformation since 1994

South Africa votes in an election that could bring about the biggest transformation since 1994

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South African voters began voting on Wednesday In the elections They are seen as the most important in their country in 30 years, and could put their fledgling democracy in uncharted territory.

At stake are three decades of dominance African National Congress Partywhich led to the exit of South Africa from Brutal white minority rule under apartheid in 1994. Now she is the target of a new generation of discontent in a country of 62 million people – half of whom are estimated to live in poverty.

The most developed economy in Africa has some of the world’s largest economies Deepest social and economic problemsincluding one of the worst unemployment rates at 32%.

Persistent inequality, with poverty and unemployment disproportionately affecting the black majority, threatens to unseat the party that promised to end it by overthrowing apartheid under the banner of a better life for all.

After winning six consecutive national elections, many opinion polls put the ANC’s support at less than 50% ahead of the current election, an unprecedented decline. He may lose his majority in parliament for the first time, although he is widely expected to hold the largest number of seats.

Support has begun to fade. The ANC won 57.5% of the vote in the last national election in 2019, its worst result to date.

South African President Cyril RamaphosaThe ANC leader has promised to “do better”. The ANC has asked for more time and patience.

Any change in the ANC’s grip on power could be of great importance to South Africa. If it loses its majority, the ANC will likely face the prospect of having to form a coalition with others to remain in government and keep Ramaphosa as president. Never before has the ANC had to participate in governance.

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South Africans vote for parties, not directly for their president. Parties then get seats in parliament according to their share of the vote, and these legislators elect the president after the election. The ANC has always held a majority in Parliament since 1994.

Elections will be held In one day across South Africa’s nine provinces, nearly 28 million people registered to vote at more than 23,000 polling stations. Final results are expected to be released by Sunday. Ramaphosa is scheduled to cast his vote in the morning at a primary school in the Johannesburg town of Soweto, where he was born and which was once the center of resistance to apartheid.

There, Samuel Ratchalengwa was among the first few people in line in the cold of South Africa’s early winter.

“I consider voting a serious matter because as communities, it’s hard to complain about services when you don’t vote,” he said. “Our main issue here in our community is the lack of jobs. We have to use voting to make our voices heard on this issue.

Opposition to the ANC in these elections is fierce, but fragmented. The two largest opposition parties, the Democratic Alliance and the Economic Freedom Fighters, are not expected to increase their votes anything close to enough to overcome the ANC.

Instead, disaffected South Africans are moving to a range of opposition parties; More than 50 people will compete in the national elections, many of them new. One is led by former South African President Jacob Zuma, who did just that He turned against his former allies in the ANC. Zuma has been disqualified from running for parliament but his party is still in the running and is the wildcard. He was scheduled to cast his vote in a rural area of ​​his home province of KwaZulu-Natal.

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The ANC says it is confident of retaining its majority. Ramaphosa noted that South Africa is now a much better country than it was under apartheid, when black people were prevented from voting, were not allowed to move freely, had to live in designated areas and were persecuted in every way.

Memories of that era, and The decisive vote that ended it In 1994, he still photographed much of daily life in South Africa. But fewer remember it as time goes by.

“This will be the seventh time that South Africans of all races, from all walks of life, and from all parts of our country, go to vote for the national and provincial government,” Ramaphosa said in his final address to the country before the elections. . “We will reaffirm the fundamental principle…that no government can justly claim power unless it is based on the will of all the people.”

Ramaphosa outlined some of the ANC government’s policies to boost the economy, create jobs and expand social support For poor residents. The speech sparked angry reactions from opposition parties, which accused him of violating the election law, which prevents holders of public office from using the position to promote a party.

The vote will highlight the country’s contrasts, from the economic hub of Johannesburg – described as Africa’s richest city – to the picturesque tourist destination of Cape Town, to the informal settlements of shanty towns on its outskirts. Millions will vote in rural areas, which are still considered the stronghold of the African National Congress, and analysts have not ruled out that the party will cling to its majority, given its decades of experience in government and its unparalleled popular campaign machine.

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While 80% of South Africa’s population is black, it is a multiracial country with large numbers of whites, people of Indian descent, people of biracial heritage and others. There are 12 official languages.

It is the diversity that Nelson Mandela, South Africa’s first black president, was highlighted as a thing of beauty by referring to his country as the “Rainbow Nation.” It is a diversity that may now be reflected in its politics, with the emergence of several new opposition parties.

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Imray reported from Cape Town, South Africa and Motsaka reported from Ishwe, South Africa.

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IP Africa News: https://apnews.com/hub/africa