South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s ruling 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 three-quarters 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.
He was expected to visit the Electoral Commission (IEC) results operation centre in Pretoria at 0800 GMT.
“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 almost 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.
‘Deepening of our democracy’
Jessie Duarte, the ANC deputy secretary-general, said the partial results were neither a “disappointment” nor a “surprise”.
“What I think is important to recognise is the deepening of our democracy,” she said at the IEC in Pretoria.
The party that wins the most seats in parliament selects the president, who will be sworn in on May 25.
“This is an election that will really offer the ANC a last chance to kickstart economic growth,” said analyst Daniel Silke. “The pressure is really on Ramaphosa in the next five years.”
Ramaphosa has so far faced resistance to his reform agenda, especially from Zuma’s allies who still occupy several high-ranking positions in the party and government.
After casting his ballot on Wednesday, Ramaphosa said the election was “heralding a new dawn… a period of renewal, a period of hope”.
The ANC’s reputation was badly sullied under Zuma. Its support has fallen in every election since 2004 with the party taking 54 percent in 2016 municipal elections, compared with 62 percent in 2014’s national vote.
Anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela and the ANC were swept to power with a landslide in the country’s first multi-racial elections that marked the end of white minority rule in 1994.
Most opinion polls before the vote had suggested the ANC would secure nearly 60 percent of the vote because of Ramaphosa’s appeal and a fractured opposition.
Forty-eight parties contested the elections — a record number.
The conservative and predominantly white Freedom Front Plus party, founded in 1994 during the negotiations to end apartheid, was performing strongly as the fourth biggest party in the vote.
‘The poor are getting poorer’
The ANC has been confronted by deepening public anger over its failure to tackle poverty and inequality in the post-apartheid era.
“We have given them 25 years but the poor are getting poorer and the rich richer,” said voter Anmareth Preece, 28, a teacher. “We need a government that governs for the people, not for themselves.”
The economy grew just 0.8 per cent in 2018 and unemployment hovers around 27 per cent — soaring to over 50 per cent among young people.
The main opposition DA is hoping to shed its image as a white, middle-class party with its first black leader, Mmusi Maimane, contesting his first general election since taking the helm in 2015.
“Black South Africans have voted for the DA, white South Africans have voted for the DA. I’m quite content with where we are at the moment as a party,” he told reporters at the results centre.
Malema’s EFF is predicted to make major gains, growing from 6.3 per cent to a forecast 11 per cent.
“We got into the race for significant change,” said EFF secretary general Godrich Gardee.
Mandla Booi, 45, a voter in Port Elizabeth on the south coast, said: “the ANC has taken people for granted”.
“There is some arrogance which has crept in.”
About 26.8 million people were registered to vote but only an estimated 65 per cent did so.
Ethiopian Airlines voted best in Africa for the third consecutive year
pian Airlines Group, the largest Aviation Group in Africa, has been voted the ‘Best Airline in Africa’ for the third consecutive year.
Mr Tewolde GebreMariam, the Group Chief Executive Officer of Ethiopian Airlines, made the disclosure in a statement in Lagos on Wednesday.
GebreMariam said the airline bagged the award at the Skytrax 2019 World Airlines Awards in Paris on 18 June.
He further disclosed that the company also won ‘Best Business Class in Africa’ as well as ‘Best Economy Class in Africa’ at the award ceremony.
He said, “We are glad to have been named the ‘Best Airline in Africa’, ‘Best Business Class in Africa’ and ‘Best Economy Class in Africa’, based on the votes of travellers.
“I would like to sincerely thank, first and foremost, our global customers for the strong and consistent vote of confidence.
“Thanks to the entire colleagues at Ethiopian airlines, who always make extraordinary efforts to delight their customers.
“We have grown to more than 120 destinations worldwide with 115 ultra-modern fleet.
“We offer excellent connectivity with one of the best travel experiences that helped us become the best airline in Africa and one of the front-runners in the world.
“As a customer-focused and market-driven airline, we always strive to meet and exceed customers’ expectations through our signature service and world-class products.”
According to him, Skytrax is the most prestigious global air transport rating organisation that conducts the world’s largest annual airline passenger satisfaction survey.
He said customers made their personal choices as to which airline they considered to be the best.
Nigerian High Commissioner cautions Ghana against negative reports on Nigerians
Nigerian High Commissioner to Ghana, has cautioned Ghanaians to stop the incessant negative media reports on Nigerians living in the country.
The envoy, in a statement obtained in Abuja on Tuesday, condemned a situation where all Nigerians livin in Ghana were being branded as bunch of criminals by the country’s media.
Abikoye said the continual reference to every Nigerian living in Ghana as a criminal even in reference to crimes with full participation of Ghanaians was unacceptable.
The high commissioner cautioned that such a development was not in the best interest of both countries.
He said it was wrong for Ghanaians to take the actions of “insignificant few elements from Nigeria to criminalise and unfairly canonise a brotherly country like Nigeria as a country of criminals who have come to disturb the peace of Ghana.”
According to the high commissioner, the daily negative reports on Nigerians by the media in Ghana “has caused untold pains, agony and apprehension to the teaming law abiding Nigerians living in Ghana.
“This set of people comprises astute businessmen, bankers, insurance brokers, students as well as investors.”
Abikoye however said the High Commission would not condone any act of criminality on the part of Nigerians living in Ghana, stressing that it would not accept general branding of all Nigerians as criminals either.
He said: “A situation where five Ghanaians in company of three Nigerians allegedly kidnapped two Canadians but seems to enjoy wide coverage as a crime committed by Nigerians and considers Ghanaians only as accomplices leaves much to be desired on the objectivity of such report.”
Abikoye was referring to a recent kidnap of two Canadians in Ghana which led to negative media reports on Nigerians resident in the country.
The high commissioner therefore cautioned the media in Ghana to be “highly circumspect in their reportage.”
Abikoye reminded Ghanaians of the good relations between Nigeria and their country as well as the brotherly cordial relationship between President Muhammadu Buhari and President Nana Akufo-Addo.
He stressed that this should not be jeopardised by xenophobic tendencies.
While cautioning journalist Ghana against what “media trial,” the envoy said whoever committed any crime must face the consequences of his/her action.
“Moreover, such media trials could be seen as prejudicial to the outcome of the ongoing prosecution in court, which sees them as innocent until proven guilt,” he said.
Abikoye gave the assurance that the high commission would continue to mobilise Nigerians in Ghana to continue to be law abiding, saying it was in touch with the host authorities to amicably resolve the issue.
Female lawmaker beaten up by colleague
A member of the Kenyan Parliament representing Wajir East, Rashid Kassim has been arrested hours after allegedly assaulting Wajir County Woman Representative Fatuma Gedi.
Wajir Woman Representative Fatuma Gedi was allegedly beaten up on Thursday morning by Wajir East MP Rashid Amin in the parliament building.
It is alleged that Gedi engaged him in a heated discussion before she was assaulted by the MP.
The MP demanded to know why Gedi, who is a member of the budget committee, did not allocate any money to his Wajir East constituency.
Gedi narrated that she was with her Homa Bay counterpart Gladys Wanga when she met the Wajir East lawmaker.
“He called me stupid and nonsense and then he beat me. I was shocked, I could not believe it. He came again and hit me.
“I told him that Wajir County was only allocated Ksh100 million and we had to allocate money to only areas of priority to the region like water and roads but he told me that was nonsense,” she highlighted.
The Home Bay Woman Representative confirmed she was present during the incident citing, they were heading to the Protection House when Amin met her.
“They started to converse in Somali so I just stood by to wait for Gedi. A few minutes into the conversation I just saw him hitting Gedi on the cheek, she was crying and bleeding. I didn’t know what could lead to that.
“I was surprised that a colleague can assault a female member,” Wanga narrated.
Gedi was then taken to the Karen Hospital for treatment.