[QODLink]
Africa
Voting ends in South Africa polls
Election expected to propel governing ANC's leader Jacob Zuma to the presidency.
Last Modified: 22 Apr 2009 21:46 GMT

Opinion polls say the governing ANC will win at least
60 per cent of the vote [AFP]

Polling stations have begun closing in South Africa's general elections, the country's fourth national polls since the end of apartheid.

The stations shut officially at 9pm local time (19:00GMT) on Wednesday, but people still waiting outside to vote would be allowed to do so, the electoral commission said.

"All stations are closing at 9pm. However, all voters who will still be in the queue at the time will be allowed to vote," it said in a statement.

More than 23 million people were registered to vote at nearly 20,000 poll stations across the country.

Counting starts after closing, with early results expected soon after.

South African election 2009

 A guide to S Africa's election system
 S Africa's forgotten freedom fighters
 Profile: Jacob Zuma
 Profile: Helen Zille
 Profile: Mvume Dandala
 Your views: Send us your comments
 Your media: Send us your videos

The vote is widely expected to propel Jacob Zuma, the leader of the ruling African National Congress (ANC), to the presidency.

Mandy Weiner, a journalist based in South Africa, speaking to Al Jazeera at 11pm local time (21:00GMT), said that voting was still taking place at many polling stations.

"There are still voters standing in queues waiting to cast their ballots," she said.

"The reason for this is that there has been a serious problem with a shortage of ballot papers and ballot boxes."

Al Jazeera's Jane Dutton, reporting earlier from a polling station in Johannesburg, said that officials had resorted to using egg crates after they ran out of ballot boxes.

High turnout

Election turnout was expected to top 80 per cent - the highest number of voters since South Africa's first multiracial election in 1994.

In video

Al Jazeera's Haru Mutasa travels through South Africa

 Economic woes imperil South Africa's Aids fight
 Inequality persists in South African schools
 Kimberley miners hit by economic slowdown
 South Africans face lack of basic services                    Security a key issue in  South African elections

David Monyae, a political analyst in Soweto, told Al Jazeera: "It appears we are entering a post-liberation era in the country. We all know the ANC is going to win, but the question is, 'when?' and 'with what percentage?'

"We are not sure if the Democratic Alliance is going to remain as the main opposition party. A lot of changes are taking place."

Opinion polls have tipped the ANC to win at least 60 per cent of the vote, with the new Congress of the People (Cope) and the Democratic Alliance (DA) expected to take about 10 per cent each.

But Helen Zille, leader of the DA, who voted at a polling station in Cape Town, said she was hopeful of a good result.

"I think South African voters know what we need to do to save democracy," she said.

'Disillusioned'

Haru Mutasa, Al Jazeera's correspondent in Cape Town, reported that many people there were voicing support for opposition parties.

"People are saying they have become disillusioned with the ANC, and that they have taken too long to deliver on their promises. Too many people still live in poverty, they want houses, water and education.

Desmond Tutu, South Africa's famed archbishop, voted in Cape Town [Reuters] 
"It is likely the vote here [in the Western Cape] will go to the Democratic Alliance."

But Zuma's promises to clean up government and improve public services have struck a chord among many South Africans, and his embrace of traditional culture has proved popular.

The ANC leader had corruption charges against him dropped two weeks ago, but the scandal has done little to dent the popularity of his party, still revered for leading the fight against apartheid.

Voting in his home province of Kwazulu-Natal, Zuma said: "When I grew up, I did know that this day would come. This makes me feel great and it's a feeling far different from the one that we had under the apartheid government."

Source:
Al Jazeera and agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
Venezuela's president lacks the charisma and cult of personality maintained by the late Hugo Chavez.
Despite the Geneva deal, anti-government protesters in Ukraine's eastern regions don't intend to leave any time soon.
Since independence, Zimbabwe has faced food shortages, hyperinflation - and several political crises.
After a sit-in protest at Poland's parliament, lawmakers are set to raise government aid to carers of disabled youth.
A vocal minority in Ukraine's east wants to join Russia, and Kiev has so far been unable to put down the separatists.
join our mailing list