South Africa prepares for elections

Monday, April 20, 2009

Final polls show the African National Congress holding a commanding lead going into Wednesday's general election.


Jacob Zuma.
Image: GCIS.
(Image missing from Commons: image; log)

A Plus 94 poll of 7000 voters showed the ruling ANC with 60% support, with the Democratic Alliance and Congress of the People neck-in-neck on 16% and 15% respectively.

Mvume Dandala (COPE)
Image: EcceHomo.

An Ipsos Markinor poll of 3,531 voters showed the ANC with 64.7%, Democratic Alliance with 10.8%, and Congress of the People with 8.9%. 4.2% were undecided, while 3.9% refused to state a preference.

Meanwhile, the main political parties have held their final rallies. Former President Nelson Mandela appeared at the ANC's final pre-election rally in Johannesburg to support presidential candidate Jacob Zuma. Mandela said that the ANC's main task was to eradicate poverty and build a better life for all.

"The ANC has the historical responsibility to lead our nation and help build a united non-racial society," he said.

Zuma promised to fight crime, boost public spending, and invest in infrastructure. He also said that there would be no room for corruption in his government, and that that ANC would not use its majority to subvert the constitution.

"Our track record speaks for itself. We use our majority responsibly and in an inclusive manner. In 15 years that [the ANC] has been in power, it has never used its electoral mandate to change the constitution," he said.

Helen Zille (DA).
Image: Helen Zille.

The ANC is hoping to repeat its success in the 2004 elections and win a two-thirds majority, enabling it to change the constitution at will.

Supporters of the rival Congress of the People, which split from the ANC last year, held their rally in Limpopo province.

The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, held its rally in Cape Town. Opposition leader Helen Zille reminded her supporters of past allegations of corruption and racketeering against Zuma, and warned that his election would turn South Africa into a "failed state".

"In 10 years time people will look back and everyone will know the DA was telling the truth from the start," she said.

400 representatives will be elected by proportional representation in Wednesday's poll, half from national and half from provincial lists. Forty parties are contesting the elections, and 23 million South Africans are registered to vote.