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.
Deadly Kidnappers Demand $1.5million For Doctors Taken In Kenya
Gunmen who kidnapped two Cuban doctors in northeastern Kenya and whisked them to Somalia have demanded $1.5 million (1.35 million euros) for their release, police and government sources said on Thursday.
The pair — a general practitioner and a surgeon — were abducted on April 12 by suspected Al-Shabaab jihadis in Mandera, near the border with Somalia.
One of two police officers escorting the doctors to work was shot dead by the attackers, who sped off toward Somalia with their captives, officials said.
Kenya and Somalia are working together to find the doctors, who Cuban President Miguel Diaz-Canel identified as Assel Herrera Correa and Landy Rodriguez Hernandez.
A top government official in Mandera said the kidnappers have demanded a ransom.
“The amount is $1.5 million. That is what they want,” the official said on condition on anonymity.
A senior police officer told AFP a ransom had been demanded, but would not elaborate. Kenyan police spokesman Charles Owino said he had no such information.
Several sources said the doctors were believed to be providing medical services in Somalia.
They were part of a group of about 100 Cubans who went to Kenya last year to boost health services there.
Kenyan police sources said the kidnapping bore the hallmarks of Al-Shabaab, a militant outfit that has been waging an insurgency against Somalia’s foreign-backed government for over a decade.
Last November, an armed gang seized Silvia Romano, 23, an Italian charity worker, in the southeastern Kenyan town of Chakama. Her whereabouts are unknown.
Police at the time warned against any speculation that Al-Shabaab, an Al-Qaeda affiliate, may have been involved in her abduction.
South Africa ANC Takes Early Lead In Election Results
South Africa’s ANC surged into the lead in early official results on Thursday with 55 percent of the vote in the first electoral test of President Cyril Ramaphosa’s bid to reinvigorate the ruling party.
With just over a fifth of voting districts tallied, the Election Commission put the African National Congress well ahead, with its closest rival the Democratic Alliance trailing with a distant 26 percent.
The Economic Freedom Fighters, founded six years ago by former ANC youth leader Julius Malema, was sitting at eight percent
Ramaphosa, 66, took over last year after the African National Congress (ANC) forced then-president Jacob Zuma to resign after nine years dominated by corruption allegations and economic problems.
The party that wins the most seats in parliament selects the country’s president, who will be sworn in on May 25.
“The outcome of this election will be a major boost for investors… and investor confidence, it’s about confidence and about the future,” Ramaphosa said after voting on Wednesday.
The ANC’s reputation was badly sullied under Zuma.
“We apologise for our mistakes.”
Support for the ANC 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.
Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress (ANC) were swept to power with a landslide in the country’s first multi-racial polls that marked the end of apartheid in 1994.
Most opinion surveys suggest the ANC will secure nearly 60 percent of the vote, thanks to Ramaphosa’s appeal and a fractured opposition.
Dirk Coetzee, a professor at UNISA’s political science department, said “the higher the percentage for the ANC, the more it will give him (Ramaphosa) bargaining power”.
“If Ramaphosa gets below 50 percent he will be very vulnerable” to challenges from rivals within the ANC, he added.
‘The poor are getting poorer’
The ANC has been confronted by deepening public anger over its failure to tackle poverty and inequality in post-apartheid South Africa.
“We have given them 25 years but the poor are getting poorer and the rich richer,” said voter Anmareth Preece, 28, a teacher from Coligny in North West province. “We need a government that governs for the people, not for themselves.”
The economy grew just 0.8 percent in 2018 and unemployment hovers around 27 percent — soaring to over 50 percent among young people.
Of the 47 opposition parties in the race, only the main opposition centrist DA and the radical-left EFF are major players.
The DA is hoping to shed its image as a white, middle-class party.
Its first black leader, Mmusi Maimane, is contesting his maiden general election since taking the helm in 2015, and is expected to make modest gains on the DA’s 2014 vote share of 22 percent.
Malema’s EFF was predicted to make major gains, growing from 6.3 percent to a forecast 11 percent. The partial results show it at eight percent.
“The ANC has taken people for granted. There is some arrogance which has crept in,” said voter Mandla Booi, 45, in Port Elizabeth on the south coast.
The EFF, which appeals mainly to young voters and the poor, has campaigned on a policy of seizing land from white owners to give to blacks.
Enforced land redistribution is also ANC policy — alarming some investors.
About 26.8 million voters were registered to cast their ballots at 22,925 polling stations countrywide.
Notorious female robber wanted in several African countries arrested at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport
A Kenyan woman wanted in several African countries for robberies, has been arrested at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) as she awaited a flight to Dar es Salaam.
Ms Margaret Waithira Kamande, described by detectives as a notorious robber, was arrested on Thursday night after detectives trailed her to JKIA.
“We trailed her for more than one month without raising any eyebrows and we are also planning to make more arrests. We are now targeting her accomplices,” an officer involved in the investigations told the Nation.
Ms Kamande was put in the Interpol list of wanted criminals after she jumped bail granted to her by a Zimbabwean court in burglary case. She was later arrested together with two others in a Tanzanian nightclub.
During the arrest, they were found in possession of door master keys, bunche of house keys and a crowbar that police in Zimbabwe believe was used to break into doors.
“She is also wanted by Interpol, Zimbabwe and other East African countries after she jumped bail which was granted by a Zimbabwean court in offences related to burglary and stealing. She had been on the run until her arrest,” the Directorate of Criminal Investigation said in a statement.
The arrest marked the end of a cat and mouse chase that Ms Kamande had engaged with Interpol and Kenyan detectives for years.
Detectives said she was planning to flee the country after being tipped of her imminent arrest.
Her gang targeted Lang’ata, Kilimani, Kileleshwa and Lavington neighbourhoods in Nairobi.
She has been captured on CCTV cameras breaking into several apartments and offices in Nairobi.
In some cases, members of the gang posed as workers from water or electricity companies during their robbery missions.
“It’s a well-structured gang that had succeeded in conducting deadly robberies that at times included the use of a gun when things went out of hand,” an officer said.