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Zuma proclaims 'new era of hope'

Mandy Rossouw

Party leaders gathered with IEC officials and the media at the results centre on Saturday afternoon in Pretoria where the results were announced.

The ANC could not manage to clinch the two-thirds majority in the 2009 elections and therefore will not have the power to change the Constitution unilaterally.

Although the party repeatedly assured the nation it would not change the Constitution, a two-thirds majority would have been a psychological victory for the new ANC leadership under Jacob Zuma. The party under former president Thabo Mbeki received 69,69% in the 2004 national elections while under Zuma it managed to secure only 65,9%.

Party leaders gathered with IEC officials and the media at the results centre on Saturday afternoon in Pretoria where the official results were announced.

Hugs were exchanged between Zuma and Congress of the People presidential candidate Mvume Dandala. Motlanthe quipped that the camaraderie between political parties was so evident that ‘someone should propose a no-party system”.

He expressed regret that the Keep it Straight and Simple party (Kiss) would not be taking part in the elections again.

‘My heart is very sore that Kiss seems to be signalling this was indeed their last election. I hope they reconsider their position. They made these elections very interesting.’

The ANC has 264 seats in Parliament. It rules all the provinces with an overwhelming majority, except in the Western Cape, where the Democratic Alliance attained a majority. Cope was installed in the Free State, Eastern Cape, Limpopo and Northern Cape as the official opposition. In KwaZulu-Natal, the official opposition is the IFP, which managed to only secure 18 seats against the ANC’s 51.

The DA will take 64 members to Parliament, Cope will have 30 MPs and the IFP will have 18 members.

President Kgalema Motlanthe told parties that their participation was valued, even if they did not fare very well.

‘As you know, progress is always a working out of opposites. Contest means there must always be different ideas and views directed to the electorate so that we can truly say it is a reflection of the will of the people,” he said at the IEC on Saturday.

He urged political parties to maintain contact with their communities between elections and to avoid ‘some kind of gap” developing.

Motlanthe said the country continued to learn and improve in the way it practiced democracy.

‘Our next step would be to explore and examine possibilities of conducting our elections electronically. We know there is one political party that has a deep aversion to electronic voting,” he said, referring to the ANC delegates at at their elective conference in Polokwane who insisted on the manual counting of votes.

Motlanthe was also pleased that observer missions had declared the elections free and fair.

A triumphant Zuma proclaimed ‘a new era of hope” when he spoke after the results announcement to the media.

In a statesman-like speech, he vowed that the ruling party would use its mandate responsibly and that the party would maintain direct contact with ordinary South Africans.

‘This is a time to bury uncertainty, pain and tension. We cannot afford to dwell on the negative, we have work to do.”

He reiterated that the government under his watch would be tough on non-performers and that there would be a change in the status quo. He shrugged off the fact that the party did not attain its two-thirds majority, and blamed the media for ‘shifting the goalposts when they should be congratulating the ANC on its decisive victory”.

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