Thursday, April 23, 2009

ANC takes early lead, DA defeats ANC Robben Island

(Reuters) - South Africa's ruling ANC headed for election victory Thursday despite a reinvigorated opposition challenge and party leader Jacob Zuma was easily on course to become president weeks after beating graft charges.

Early results showed the African National Congress with 62 percent, battering the hopes of the Congress of the People (COPE) party, formed by ANC dissidents, that it might pose the first real challenge since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Zuma portrays himself as a champion of the poor, and for many voters the ANC's credentials from the fight against white minority rule still outweigh frustrations with its failure to tackle widespread crime, poverty and AIDS.

COPE won only 7.6 percent of the early votes counted. The biggest challenge came from the Democratic Alliance -- led by a white woman -- with 20.7 percent.

Opposition parties hoped to at least deprive the ANC of the two-thirds parliamentary majority that lets it change the constitution and entrench its hold, but with barely a tenth of the votes counted it was too early to say if that was the case.

"If I were to make a prediction now, I would think the ANC would be in the mid-sixties, just below two-thirds," said former opposition leader Tony Leon.

The final result is not expected before Friday but there is little doubt the 67-year-old Zuma will become president only three weeks after managing to get prosecutors to drop an eight-year-old corruption case that had tainted his reputation.

Among his first tasks will be reassuring foreign investors who fear his trade union allies will push him toward the left at a time the continent's biggest economy could already be in recession.

He has repeatedly said there will be no nasty surprises in store for investors, and with the economy possibly already in its first recession for 17 years, his room for policy maneuver is limited.

Finance Minister Trevor Manuel, a market favorite, is expected to stay for now.

Zuma has also pledged to tackle the rampant violent crime which could mar next year's hosting of the soccer World Cup.

Election officials estimated the turnout in Wednesday's vote at 76 percent -- the same as 2004, when the ANC won 70 percent of the vote. Most analysts see that slipping because of the new opposition challenge.

"We are entering a post-liberation era. People are talking about new issues and challenges and there's also a new generation that's not attached to the liberation struggle," said independent political analyst David Monyae.

In an indication of at least a localized shift against the ANC, the Democratic Alliance for the first time defeated the ruling party on Robben Island, where Nelson Mandela, Zuma and other political prisoners were held during apartheid.

Police said the election was largely peaceful, although COPE said one of its officials was shot dead in what it believed to be a political killing.

3 Opinion(s):

Nix said...

Tony Leon said that he has been checking a computer model this morning. At this stage (and also based on his 2004 experience at this stage the day
after) he is predicting:-

1. ANC mid sixties just under 2/3; DA about 16; COPE about 8 - 10
2. DA will take W. Cape or it doesn't will have majority with other parties
3. DA and opposition may have chance to take N Cape
4. ANC will take other provinces; Cope will come second in NW, Limpopo, Free State.
5. Don't know about E.Cape - still too early.

Here's the first and biggest shock: The ANC is heading for something in the mid-60's AND JUST SHORT OF THE 66.7% they need for the two-thirds majority.

COPE does NOT win in any of the provinces it had hoped for, and at best, the *ONLY* progress is that the DA and others might, together, take the Northern Cape.

This is not good at all. It confirms that COPE is almost stillborn - with 8-10%. It looks to me as if all my worst fears are confirmed, and the ANC has massively rigged this election.
And look at COPE - totally DEVASTATED from beginning to end.

Let's say Tony Leon is right and COPE gets 8%. Most of the 8% should be from the ANC itself, so why doesn't the ANC then drop from 70% to say 62%? We have seen lots of polls, with the ANC as low as 59% in the polls. Why then is the ANC back at that magical two-thirds level?

Look, 8-10% is still ok. It gets COPE into parliament as the 2nd biggest party, with the DA remaining the opposition. COPE can build on this, but it is a very serious setback. I think COPE was MASSIVELY CHEATED.

I say this election was MASSIVELY RIGGED and the ANC will get to walk away from it unscathed.

Leifur said...

Isn´t just COPE in fact replacing IFP, as it was not able to hold ground against ANC?

If there was vote rigging, no wonder they arrested the one stuffing a ballot box with IFP marked ballot, not professionally done and of course not voting for the right party.

But is it true that during some previous elections that boxes from IFP strongholds were discarded, like someone said in some comments? When and was there any punishment for it?

Best wishes,


Anonymous said...

You can dissect this any way you like, JZ will be the next President, and SA will probably move in the direction of a one party state. The electorate would have spoken, which means they will get the government they deserve. So ultimately there will be no role for us to play anymore, unless JZ surprises, which is unlikely.