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South Africa - report

Polls open in South Africa's third post-apartheid local elections

Reuters/Siphiwe Sibeko
Text by: Jean-Jacques Cornish
2 min

Polls opened across South Africa shortly after sunrise Wednesday for more than 23 million voters to cast their ballots in the country’s third local elections since the end of apartheid 17 years ago.

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Opinion polls gave the ruling African National Congress nearly 60 per cent support.

The opposition Democratic Alliance expected to retain control of the Cape and make some inroads in other metropolitan areas.

Visiting the state-of-the-art national results centre run by the Independent Electoral Commission in Pretoria, President Jacob Zuma said that conducting a campaign without violence and tension showed South Africans have grown used to democracy.

These mid-term elections have centred on the ruling party’s ability to deliver essential services to a workforce experiencing 20 per cent joblessness and a population with one in three people drawing social benefits.

Opposition leader Helen Zille was adamant the election was not a contest between blacks and whites.

She has urged voters “to make the issue the issues”.

The emotive nature of South African politics meant many disenchanted ANC supporters, who couldn’t find it in their hearts to vote against the former liberation movement, were expected to simply abstain.

There was a 48 per cent turnout in the previous local elections five years ago.

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