Pretoria, South Africa – The ruling African National Congress party (ANC) has won a landslide victory in South Africa’s fifth democratic election, the country’s Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has said.
Addressing the country in a glitzy ceremony on Saturday evening in Pretoria, Pansy Tlakula, chair of the IEC, said the ANC won 249 out of a possible 400 seats.
Tlakula said that 18 million South Africans had stood together as a nation during the election.
“There is no more tangible symbol of nationhood and inclusivity than participation in an election,” Tlakula said.
The IEC said the ANC had managed to gain 62.2 percent of the vote, while the official opposition, the Democratic Alliance (DA), ended in second place with 22.2 percent of the vote.
Responding to the result, President Jacob Zuma said the victory “reconfirmed how deeply rooted the ANC is in the hearts and minds of the majority of South Africans.
“It is an affirmation of our assertion that South Africa has a good story to tell,” Zuma said.
In the previous election, in 2009, the ANC received 65.9 percent of votes cast and the DA had 16.6 percent.
‘Free, fair, transparent and credible’
The African Union declared the elections to have been “free, fair, transparent and credible”.
In an interview with Al Jazeera, Imraan Buccas, an independent political analyst, said ANC’s victory was “unsurprising.”
“Despite the disillusionment with the ANC, people have voted ANC because they believe that they owe their liberation to this movement,” Buccas said. “History teaches us that the idea of ‘liberation dividend’ lasts at least 3-4 decades.”
“Liberation movements get pushed to the periphery once the aura of liberation wears out and this is likely to happen when more and more young people become the core force of the electorate,” he added.
But the vote did not end completely unscathed by scandal and allegations of fraud.
On polling day, an ANC member was killed outside a polling station in KwaZulu-Natal.
In Alexandra, a township outside Johannesburg, residents clashed with police after opposition parties accused a local ANC councillor and an IEC official of tampering with the vote.
The army had to be called in to bring calm to the township.
Late on Saturday, the township remained tense with a handful of streets still blocked by debris from the night before.
Terry Tselane, deputy chair of IEC, admitted that “the election was not perfect, but no election is”.
A record 25 million South Africans registered for this year’s poll and voter turnout was 73.43 percent.