Photos: South Africans vote in crucial election | Elections News

South Africans are voting in schools, community centers and in large white tents set up in open fields in an election considered the country’s most important in 30 years, which could put the young democracy in uncharted territory.

At stake Wednesday is the three-decade dominance of the African National Congress (ANC) party, which led South Africa out of the brutal white minority rule of apartheid in 1994. It is now the target of a new generation of discontent in a country of 62 inhabitants. million people, of whom it is estimated that half live in poverty.

After casting his vote, President Cyril Ramaphosa said he had no doubt his ANC would win with a majority and remain in government.

Africa’s most advanced economy has some of the deepest socioeconomic problems in the world, including the worst unemployment rate of about 32 percent. Persistent inequality, with poverty and unemployment disproportionately affecting the black majority, threatens to topple the party that promised to end injustice by overturning apartheid under the banner of a better life for all.

“Our main problem here in our community is the lack of jobs,” said Samuel Ratshalingwa, who was at the front of the queue at the same school in Johannesburg’s Soweto township where Ramaphosa voted.

“We have to use the vote to make our voice heard on this issue,” said Ratshalingwa, who left before 7 am (0500 GMT) on a cold winter morning.

After winning six consecutive national elections, several polls show the ANC’s support was below 50 percent before this one, an unprecedented drop. It could lose its majority in parliament for the first time, although it is expected to hold the most seats.

The ANC won 57.5 percent of the vote in the last national election in 2019, its worst result to date and below the peak of almost 70 percent of the vote 20 years ago.

Ramaphosa has promised to “do better”. The ANC has asked for more time and patience.

South Africans vote for parties, not directly for their president. Parties then win seats in parliament based on their percentage of votes, and those lawmakers elect the president after the election. The ANC has always had a majority in parliament since 1994.

The elections would be held in one day in all nine provinces of South Africa, with almost 28 million people registered to vote at more than 23,000 polling stations. Final results are expected on Sunday.

While 80 percent of South Africans are black, it is a multiracial country with significant populations of whites, of Indian descent, of biracial heritage known locally as the “colored” community, and others.

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