South Africa elections 2024: All you need to know about these crucial polls | Today News – Mint

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As South Africans head to vote on Wednesday, May 29, the country is facing a crucial election that could end the African National Congress (ANC)’s 30-year dominance, according to an AFP report.

The ANC is South African independence movement leader Nelson Mandela‘s political party.

Polls opened at 7 am local time and will close at 9 pm local time today at 23,292 voting stations, as per a Bloomberg report. The country will see close to 28 million registered voters elect a new parliament, which will then select the president.

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Political Sphere

As many as 70 political parties and 11 independents are competing for seats in parliament and the nine provincial legislatures. The president will be elected at the first meeting of the new National Assembly, which must occur within 14 days after the results are announced, Bloomberg report added.

More than a third of the 2,545 registered voters surveyed indicated that no party represents their views. This supports findings from other polls showing that many people are undecided on who to support and might choose not to vote, Bloomberg said.

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Here is all you need to know about this historic elections

  • Threat to ANC’s Majority: For the first time since 1994, the ANC risks losing its majority and may need to form a coalition. Aleix Montana, an analyst at Verisk Maplecroft told AFP the election is a “watershed moment” in South Africa’s political history. Under Mandela, the ANC ended apartheid, built a democracy, and lifted millions out of poverty with social welfare programmes, the report added.
  • Dissatisfaction Among Voters: Many of South Africa’s 62 million citizens have expressed frustration with high unemployment (32.9 percent), crime, corruption, power cuts, and water shortages, the report noted. The economy grew only 0.6 percent in 2023. “It’s now time to make my vote count and kick them out,” said Busisiwe Mthethwa, 62, from Umlazi, who voted early as one of 1.6 million “special voters.” Special voters consist of the elderly and essential workers who were allowed to cast their ballot early on Monday and Tuesday (May 27 and 28).
  • Ramaphosa Seeking Second term: President Cyril Ramaphosa, seeking a second term, defended his record in a speech, citing progress in fighting corruption and fixing electricity issues. “We cannot afford to turn back. There is more work to be done,” he said, promising universal credit and health coverage. But, polls suggest the ANC could win as little as 40 percent of the vote, down from 57 percent in 2019, the report added. If the ANC has fewer than 201 seats, Ramaphosa will need to negotiate with opposition parties and independents to form a government.

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  • Opposition Challenges: On the right, the Democratic Alliance (DA) aims to “Rescue South Africa” by ending race-based economic programmes and promoting growth through privatisation and deregulation. Polls put the DA below 25 percent. On the left, the ANC faces competition from Jacob Zuma’s uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) and Julius Malema’s Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), which advocate for radical reforms like land redistribution and nationalisation. Both parties are polling around 10 percent.
  • Jacob Zuma in focus: Zuma, once an ANC stalwart, was ousted in 2018 amid corruption allegations and is barred from standing as an MP but remains popular in his home province of KwaZulu-Natal.
  • Predicted Voter Turnout: Turnout is crucial, with models suggesting low participation could benefit the ruling party. Voter interest has decreased since 1999’s high of 89 percent, with 66 percent turnout in 2019, the report added.
  • Results: South Africans will also vote for provincial legislatures. Full results are expected by the weekend.

(With inputs from AFP and Bloomberg)

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Published: 29 May 2024, 11:18 AM IST

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