South Africa election: Ruling ANC set for reduced majority

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At the last election in 2014, the ANC won 62 percent of votes, the DA 22 percent and the EFF 6 percent.

Polls closed in South Africa on Wednesday after nationwide elections nearly certain to keep the ruling ANC in power despite anger over corruption scandals, sluggish growth, and record unemployment.

While the ANC will win at the national level, the governing party is at risk of losing control of South Africa's economic heartland, the province of Gauteng, where Johannesburg and Pretoria are located.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, a government agency, also forecast a decline in support, predicting the ANC would get just over 57 percent of the parliamentary vote and about 50 percent in the provincial polls.

Voting for the 400-member National Assembly and nine provincial legislatures is due to run from 7 a.m. local time to 9 p.m.

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President Cyril Ramaphosa has the full backing of the ANC to reduce the size of the cabinet after the elections, senior official Fikile Mbalula said. "This is the most important vote since 1994".

But the ANC's list of parliamentary candidates contains many hardliners who are opposed to Ramaphosa's reformist agenda and could frustrate his initiatives in parliament. If the ANC doesn't do well, there's a better chance of Ramaphosa being ousted from the party structures, with crooks like Ace Magashule and David Mabuza (and a certain Jacob Zuma behind the scenes) becoming more powerful.

As officials trudged through millions of votes on Thursday, election officials announced they would "urgently conduct" an audit into allegations that some citizens may have voted a few times, by removing the indelible ink voting officials put on every voter's thumb.

The populist, left-wing Economic Freedom Fighters, which also made graft a main campaign issue, increased its share of the vote to almost 10% support.

The ANC has been confronted by deepening public anger over its failure to tackle poverty and inequality in post-apartheid South Africa.

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"We admit that we have made mistakes and we put ourselves before our people and say yes - we have made mistakes, but it is only those who are doing nothing who don't make mistakes", he said.

"This election also seems to have been quite tough on the smaller parties", says Jenny Holloway, senior researcher at the CSIR.

Election officials said voting in general had progressed smoothly but that there had been isolated disruptions caused by bad weather, unscheduled power outages or community protests. But his supporters are fighting an internal feud with Mr. Zuma's faction, which has remained heavily influential in the ANC. He was celebrating "that our country is now ruled by black people", he told the BBC. It had 23% of the vote, about the same share it received previously.

In 2015 the DA appointed its first black leader, Mmusi Maimane, to broaden its appeal and improved its national standing by leading coalition victories in local government elections in metropolitan areas like Johannesburg a year later.

It doesn't help that among its ranks, the DA has former apartheid era Afrikaner leaders who are keen to protect white privilege in a multi-racial South Africa.

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