ANC wins South Africa elections but misses two-thirds majority

April 25th, 2009 - 10:14 pm ICT by IANS  

Gordon Brown Johannesburg, April 25 (DPA) South Africa’s ruling African National Congress (ANC) won the country’s election with a decisive majority, according to results Saturday - but fell short of the two-thirds majority it had been batting for.
Jacob Zuma’s ANC took 65.9 percent of votes to the 400-seat National Assembly, against 16.6 percent for the Democratic Alliance (DA) of Cape Town mayor Helen Zille and a little over 7 percent for the fledgling Congress of the People, preliminary final results showed.

The Independent Electoral Commission was due to confirm the results later Saturday and officially declare the ANC the winner.

Britain’s Prime Minister Gordon Brown had already become one of the first world leaders to congratulate Zuma, who is set to become president within days, Downing Street said, in a short telephone call late Friday night.

Whilst the ANC has been celebrating the result as a resounding mandate for Zuma, who had faced a trial for corruption until a few weeks before the election, the ANC in fact dropped support in percentage terms for the first time since it came to power under Nelson Mandela in 1994.

Mandela’s successor Thabo Mbeki, whom Zuma ousted as ANC leader in 2007, had increased the party’s vote in two successive elections to 70 percent in 2004.

The ANC points to the fact that it won more votes than ever before because around two million more people voted in these elections than the last one.

South Africa has a proportional representation system, which means that seats in parliament are allocated according to each party’s share of the vote.

In failing to clinch two-thirds of the vote, the ANC loses its power to push through constitutional amendments on its own through parliament.

The DA had warned voters against giving the populist Zuma that power, saying it feared he might use it to muzzle his critics.

The ANC had retorted that it had a two-thirds majority for the past five years and never abused it.

Voters in the election were also asked to chose parties to nine provincial parliaments. The ANC maintained control of all but one province. The Western Cape, where Cape Town is located, went to the DA, which hopes to use the province to showcase its ability to govern and increase its majority in future elections.

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