dpa correspondents, Reuters
For the sixth time in a row since the end of apartheid, the party of the late Nelson Mandela will form the majority in South Africa’s parliament.
In a formal ceremony in the capital Pretoria, South Africa’s Independent Electoral Commission announced the official results of the May 8 election. In the televised ceremony, the commission also declared the election was free and fair.
Former African statesmen, Tanzania’s Jakaya Kikwete and Nigeria’s Goodluck Jonathan, who led observer missions, also declared the election free and fair.
The ruling African National Congress remains in power, but with its lowest-ever vote share at 57.5 per cent, according to the electoral commission.
In South Africa’s proportional representation system, the ANC will hold 230 seats in power, said the electoral commission’s chairman, Glen Mashinini.
The official website on Saturday showed the ANC with the largest vote share after 100 per cent of the ballots had been counted in all 22,925 districts.
The ANC’s main challenger, the Democratic Alliance (DA), was on 20.8 per cent. The radical Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) nearly doubled its result from the last elections, winning 10.8 per cent. The DA will hold 84 seats, while the EFF will take 44.
More than 17.6 million votes were cast. South Africa’s voter turnout is steadily declining, with 66 per cent of eligible voters casting their ballot this time around. In 2014, 73.4 per cent of the electorate cast their ballots, while in 2009, voter turnout stood at 77.3 per cent.
The election was marred by accusations of voter irregularities from smaller parties. In a televised press conference on the floor of the national results centre in Pretoria, smaller parties banded together late on Friday, saying they may challenge the Independent Electoral Commission’s result due to concerns over double voting.
On Thursday, the local press reported that more than 20 people were arrested for voting twice. In a televised press conference on Saturday, the electoral commission said that it would investigate the incidents, but would not delay releasing the results over the matter.
South Africa has been reeling from almost a decade of corruption scandals under former president Jacob Zuma, who was forced to resign last year and is currently on trial.
ANC President Cyril Ramaphosa, who replaced Zuma, has promised a “new dawn” for the country.