April 16, 2004

SOUTH AFRICA: ANC celebrates landslide victory / No constitutional changes envisaged, says Mbeki

The African National Congress is celebrating its most decisive victory in the post-apartheid era, while the party that gave South Africa apartheid heads toward political obscurity. With results reported from more than 95% of polling districts, the ANC had just under 70% of the parliamentary vote, assuring President Thabo Mbeki of a second term. Mbeki said during a visit to the centre where results from the votes were being compiled: "It is quite clear the ANC has got the overwhelming support and confidence of the people of South Africa. It also, I think, poses a challenge to the ANC not to disappoint the expectations of the millions of people who voted so overwhelmingly for the ANC."

South Africa's third democratic national election dealt a heavy blow to the New National Party, the forbear of which presided over almost half a century of white minority rule. Party support had already tumbled from 20% in 1994 to under 7% in 1999. With now less than 2%, it appeared destined to be little more than a regional party. The Democratic Alliance was running a distant second with just more than 12% of the vote, up from 9% in 1999, said electoral officials. The new president will be sworn in April 27, the day South Africa celebrates a decade of multiracial democracy.

On a provincial level, such as in the Western Cape, the ANC had 40,19% of the provincial vote and its coalition partner, the New National Party 10,16%. This gives them a thin majority in the province. The Democratic Alliance had secured 31, 42% of the poll. In KwaZulu-Natal, with 72,22% of the vote in, the Inkatha Freedom Party had 37,86% of the provincial ballot, the DA 11,49% and the ANC 42,36%. This opens the way for the formation of an opposition coalition to be formed to keep the ANC out of the provincial government - unless the IFP decides to try and negotiate its way back into the national Cabinet. IFP leader Mangosuthu Buthelezi has admitted that he is uncertain about his political future because relations between the ANC and the IFP are "in pieces". There is also a growing likelihood that the IFP will reject the election results in KZN to give itself a negotiating tool. The ANC has also secured the North West province, Limpopo and Mpumalanga with well over 80% of the vote. In the Eastern Cape and the Free State the ANC secured more than 75% of the provincial vote, while in the Northern Cape and Gauteng, it received more than 60% of the ballot.

President Thabo Mbeki thanked the nation for giving his African National Congress (ANC) a strong majority in the national election - the country's third post-apartheid poll. Speaking at the Independent Electoral Commission headquarters in Pretoria he said the ANC has never campaigned to achieve a two-thirds majority and did not "visualise any constitutional changes" in the road ahead. (Sunday Times, Johannesburg / The Mail & Guardian, Johannesburg)


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