South Africans started voting in parliamentary and provincial elections on Wednesday, with queues seen winding from various polling stations.
The ruling African National Congress has won every parliamentary election since the end of white minority rule in 1994, and opinion polls predict it will again win a majority of the 400 seats in the National Assembly. Analysts predict however its margin of victory will fall.
It is the first time Africa’s biggest economy is voting since President Cyril Ramaphosa assumed power early last year with promises to renew both his corruption-ridden party and the beleaguered nation.
A quarter-century after the end of apartheid captured imaginations worldwide, President Ramaphosa and his party, the African National Congress, faced an electorate increasingly disillusioned with the state of South Africa’s democracy. The vote is partly a referendum on Ramaphosa, whose personal popularity has consistently polled higher than his party’s.
Many of the A.N.C.’s traditional supporters approve of him, polls show. But they question whether he can outflank powerful party rivals and root out the endemic corruption that has come to define the A.N.C., Nelson Mandela’s once celebrated liberation movement.
Early this year, South Africans were accused of being extremely xenophobic following widespread attacks in different parts of the country on foreigners who are employed or run businesses in south Africa