President Ramaphosa faces unprecedented pressure as ANC suffers worst election defeat in 30 years


South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa is under growing pressure after leading the ruling African National Congress (ANC) to its worst election result in 30 years, forcing it to share power.

With almost all the votes counted from Wednesday’s poll, the ANC stands at 40 percent, down from 58 percent in the previous election.

The BBC reported that this was lower than the party’s feared worst-case scenario of 45 percent, according to analysts.

The ANC had consistently polled above 50 percent since the country’s first democratic elections in 1994, which saw Nelson Mandela become president.

However, support for the party has been dropping significantly due to anger over high levels of corruption, unemployment and crime.

Citing the cost-of-living crisis and frequent power cuts, one woman told the BBC she had voted for the ANC for the past 30 years but backed the center-right Democratic Alliance (DA) this time.

“This result is not good. I wanted it out of government. We need to give someone else a chance,” she said.

Read More: South Africa’s ANC loses majority, faces coalition politics after historic election

Late on Saturday, the country’s Electoral Commission announced it would release the full results at 18:00 local time on Sunday. The Commission stated that all objections raised by various political parties would be reviewed, and recounts would be ordered if necessary.

The ANC leadership, including President Ramaphosa, is currently discussing the way forward and preparing for complex coalition talks, a source told the BBC.

The options include a coalition with the DA, which is in second place with 22 percent, or the uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) party led by former President Jacob Zuma, with 15 percent.

The radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) hold 9 percent, so a coalition of these two parties would fall just short of the required 50 percent.

The new Parliament must be sworn in within two weeks of the final results and the new President would typically be chosen then.

Both the EFF and MK advocate seizing white-owned land and nationalizing the country’s mines – policies that would alarm foreign investors.

The MK has indicated it would be willing to work with the ANC but not while it is led by Ramaphosa, who replaced Zuma as both President and ANC leader following a bitter power struggle in 2018.

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