South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) was in touching distance of election victory Friday but with diminished support, complicating efforts to revive the country’s flagging economy and fight corruption, results showed.
The African National Congress (ANC), in power since 1994, held a very comfortable lead with nearly 57 percent after four-fifths of voting districts were officially tallied following Wednesday’s vote.
But the result would be the party’s worst national showing since Nelson Mandela led the ANC to victory in the first multi-racial polls after apartheid ended in 1994.
Ramaphosa, 66, took over last year when the party forced then-president Jacob Zuma to resign after nine years dominated by corruption allegations and economic problems.
“We’re going to be the government, whether there is decline or increase,” said the ANC’s chairman Gwede Mantashe late on Thursday.
Results released by the IEC showed the ANC’s closest rival, the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) trailing with a distant 22 percent of the vote.
The Economic Freedom Fighters, founded six years ago by former ANC youth leader Julius Malema, was in third place with 10 percent.
Final results are expected to be officially certified on Saturday.
A new projection by South Africa’s respected Council for Scientific and Industrial Research forecast the ANC would win with 57 percent — a five percentage point drop from the last election in 2014.
The party that wins the most seats in parliament selects the president, who will be sworn in on May 25.
“The ANC are being given a chance,” said political analyst Lumkile Mondi. “This is an opportunity for them to reincarnate themselves.”