Ruling ANC takes heavy victory in S.Africa elections
The ruling African National Congress (ANC) swept toward victory in South Africa's fifth post-apartheid election today, handing President Jacob Zuma the clout to push through pro-business reforms in the face of union and leftist opposition.
The ANC, the liberation movement that swept to power two decades ago under the leadership of Nelson Mandela, won 63.7 percent of yesterday's vote with nearly two-thirds of districts counted, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) said.
The ANC's nearest rival, the Democratic Alliance, was on 22.1 percent, upholding poll predictions the party would improve on the 16.7 percent it won five years ago as it gradually sheds its image as the political home of privileged minority whites.
The militant EFF, launched by Malema after he was expelled from the ANC in 2012, was in third place with 4.9 percent.
Burdened with sluggish economic growth and damaging strikes in his first term, the scandal-plagued Zuma has devoted less and less time over the last year to the wishes of unions, whose long walkouts have hit confidence in Africa's most developed economy.
He has also batted away opposition from the far left, squelching some expectations the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) - led by his former protege Julius Malema - would ride a wave of populist anger over widespread poverty and unemployment.
Zuma hinted this week that the ANC needed to take a more pro-business tack, accusing the main platinum union of irresponsibility for dragging out a four-month wage strike, and he hinted at reforms in the pipeline.
"We need an overwhelming majority so that we can change certain things so that we can move faster," Zuma told a news conference. "There are things you need to remove so you can move faster. I won't be specific."
One influential minister said the ANC would focus on policies adopted at a 2012 leadership conference, when it rejected "wholesale nationalisation" of industries and sought to quell investor concerns with business-friendly pronouncements.