South Africa election results: Country heads for coalition as support for ANC plunges

African National Congress has secured about 42% of votes, a drop from the 57.5% in the 2019 elections

People watch live voting results at the election commission's national results centre in Johannesburg, South Africa. Getty Images
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South African parties geared up for coalition talks on Friday as the governing African National Congress looked set to fall well short of a majority for the first time in 30 years of the country's democracy.

While the party of the late leader Nelson Mandela looked set to remain the largest political force, voters' approval appears to have shrunk for The Former Liberation Movements of Southern Africa after years of what many South Africans say is a decline in performance.

With results in from 57.3 per cent of polling stations, the ANC had 41.9 per cent of votes, a drop from the 57.5 per cent it secured in the last national election in 2019.

The pro-business Democratic Alliance was in second place on 23.4 per cent of votes. uMkhonto we Sizwe (MK), a new party led by former president Jacob Zuma, was at 11.3 per cent and eating into ANC support, particularly in KwaZulu-Natal, Mr Zuma's home province.

MK had overtaken the Marxist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF), currently the third-biggest party in parliament, which was sitting on 9.5 per cent.

"I think it's a very good day for South Africa. We said for the last 30 years the way to rescue South Africa was to break the ANC majority. We've done that," DA leader John Steenhuisen told reporters at the results centre in Midrand, north of Johannesburg.

The ANC had won every national election since the historic 1994 vote that ended white minority rule, but over the past decade South Africans have watched the economy stagnate, unemployment and poverty climb and infrastructure crumble, leading to regular power cuts.

Speculation was intense about which party or parties the ANC may approach to form a coalition and remain in government, or what other negotiations might be going on behind closed doors.

Asked if his party was in coalition talks, Mr Steenhuisen said "no".

"We've got to wait for the results to end before we can start with any major discussions but my first port of call is going to be with my Multi-Party Charter conference," he said, referring to an alliance of opposition parties formed before the election.

The political uncertainty has impacted the government's bond market, with prices of the country's main internationally traded bonds down as much as 1.3 cents on the US dollar. The falls were the third in a row and left the bonds at their lowest level in almost a month.

The final results are expected in the next couple of days.

The Independent Electoral Commission's website was briefly down on Friday due to technical problems.

"The data in the data centre remains intact and the results have not been compromised," the IEC said, after apologising for the issue.

"All services have since been restored and the leader board is working normal. Result processing continues unaffected."

- With reporting from agencies

Updated: May 31, 2024, 11:10 AM