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South Africa’s ANC has to share power after election blow

By-Farouk Chothia & Catherine Byaruhanga, BBC News, Johannesburg

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 in from Wednesday’s poll, the ANC is on 40% – down from 58% at the previous election.

This is lower than the party’s feared worst-case scenario of 45%, analysts say.

The ANC has always polled above 50% since the country’s first democratic elections in 1994, which saw Nelson Mandela become president.

But support for the party has been dropping significantly because of 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 had backed the centre-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.

Late on Saturday, the country’s electoral commission said it would announce the full results at 18:00 local time (17:00 BST) on Sunday.

The commission said all objections raised by several political parties would be reviewed, and recounts would be ordered if needed.

This is when we will know exactly how many seats each party has in the National Assembly, although South Africa has a strict system of proportional representation, so we already have a pretty good idea.

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

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

The radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) is on 9%, so a coalition of those two parties would fall just short of the required 50%.

The new parliament must be sworn in within two weeks of the final results and the new president would normally be chosen then.

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

The MK has said it would be prepared to work with the ANC, but not while Mr Ramaphosa led it.

He replaced Mr Zuma as both president and ANC leader following a bitter power struggle in 2018.

Mr. Gaspard described the two politicians as “sworn enemies”, but added that Mr. Zumanow now “gets to play kingmaker if the ANC goes into coalition with his new party”.

MK supporters have been celebrating overnight in Durban, the biggest city in the party’s heartland of KwaZulu-Natal province. The party was only formed in September.

ANC chairperson Gwede Mantashe said his party would unlikely ally with the DA.