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Counting after important poll

Farouk Chothia,BBC News, Johannesburg

AFP voters vote at a polling station, on May 29, 2024, in South Africa's general election. South Africans vote on May 29, 2024 in what could be the most consequential election in decades, as discontent with the ruling ANC threatens to end its 30-year political dominance. this organization.AFP

Voters of all generations are eager to vote

Votes are being counted after an election seen as South Africa’s most tense since the African National Congress (ANC) came to power 30 years ago.

Long lines snaked outside polling stations across the country.

An election official in Johannesburg told the BBC the long queues were reminiscent of the historic 1994 election, when black people could vote for the first time and Nelson Mandela became president.

Many people were still waiting to vote when polls officially closed at 9:00 p.m. local time (19:00 GMT) but the election commission said they would all be allowed to vote.

The first results will start coming in Thursday morning and final results are expected later in the week.

The ANC has lost support due to anger at high levels of corruption, crime and unemployment. Opinion polls suggest the party could lose its majority in parliament.

Sifiso Buthelezi, who voted at Joubert Park in Johannesburg – the largest polling station in South Africa – told the BBC: “Freedom is great but we need to tackle corruption.”

Change has become the norm, especially among young voters.

Ayanda Hlekwane, one of the “unborn” generation in South Africa, meaning he was born after 1994, said that despite having three degrees, he still has no job.

“I’m doing a PhD so I can go back to study in case I don’t get a job,” he told the BBC in Durban.

But Mr Hlekwane said he was optimistic that things would change.

Getty Images Voters line up outside Johannesburg city hallbeautiful images

Queues like this one in Johannesburg are said to be reminiscent of the 1994 election

A record 70 parties and 11 independents contested the election, with South Africans voting for a new parliament and nine provincial legislatures.

Analysts say this shows that many people are disillusioned with the ANC.

“We are entering the next phase of democracy and this will be a major transformation,” political analyst Richard Calland told the BBC.

“We will either become a more mature and competitive democracy, or our politics will become more fractured.”

The main opposition party, the Democratic Alliance (DA), signed a pact with 10 other parties, agreeing to form a coalition government if they had enough votes to oust the ANC from power.

But this is highly unlikely, as the ANC is expected to remain the largest party, putting it at the top of the coalition if its approval rating falls below 50%.

It received 57.5% of the vote in the last election compared to the DA’s 21%.

South Africans do not directly vote for president. Instead, they vote for members of parliament, who then elect the president.

Therefore, current President Cyril Ramaphosa will likely continue to hold power.

South Africa elections: Here’s what voters have to say

Former President Jacob Zuma caused a huge shock when he announced in December that he would abandon the ANC to campaign for a new party, uMkhonto weSizwe (MK), which roughly translates as Spear of the Nation.

Although he was banned from running for parliament because he was convicted of contempt of court, his name still appeared on the ballot as MK leader.

The MK is expected to do particularly well in Mr Zuma’s home province of KwaZulu-Natal, where tensions are high, with several incidents of violence reported during the election campaign.

Police and the military were deployed to polling stations across the country to ensure the vote was peaceful and that votes were not stolen.

According to statistics published by the election commission, more than 27 million people have registered to vote, of which 55% are women.

In terms of age groups, the highest voter registration rate is among people between 30 and 39 years old. They make up nearly seven million of the 26.7 million voters.

Young people can influence this election in their favor.

Artist Njabulo Hlophe, 28, said young people in South Africa tend to be marginalized but “this is as much our country as our parents… they are letting that for us, so someone who really cares about young people is someone”. I’m really considering it.”

Support for the ANC is expected to be higher among the older generation.

An 89-year-old woman, Elayne Dykman, told the BBC in Durban that she hopes that young people in South Africa do not take their vote for granted.

Additional reporting by Anne Soy in Durban and Barbara Plett Usher in Soweto

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