ANC president Jacob Zuma expressed delight and said his party was “humbled” that the majority of South African voters have returned the party to power.
Zuma, the ruling party’s presidential candidate who is expected to serve a second term as state president, delivered his address on Saturday after the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) announced official final results for this week’s election.
Zuma called the ANC victory a “reaffirmation that South Africa indeed has a good story to tell”. The ANC won 62.15% (11 436 921 votes) of the 18 million votes cast on Wednesday.
Though the party remains the majority in the National Assembly and eight provinces, it lost 15 seats in Parliament and was reduced to 249 seats.
Zuma was however not fazed by the decline over the past two elections. “They [voters] have approved of the good work we have done over the last 20 years in general and in the past five years in particular,” he said.
The ANC dedicated this election victory “to Madiba’s memory and vow to take forward his legacy and that of his peers,” Zuma said.
Nelson Mandela, the first democratically elected president of South Africa, died last December and the ANC urged voters during its campaigns to elect it back into power to honour him.
In the next five-year term the ANC would “use our majority to implement policies and programmes that improve the lives of the people, especially the poor,” Zuma said. “This new mandate is a licence to continue building on infrastructure programmes and it gives us the green light to implement the national development plan”.
The NDP, the country’s long-term plan for social and economic development as well as job creation, was widely accepted by opposition parties, but part of it criticised and rejected by metalworkers’ union Numsa, the biggest affiliate of the ANC’s ally Cosatu.
In an attempt to appease and reach out to residents that have demonstrated their anger and frustration towards the ANC-led government through protests, Zuma promised residents of Bekkersdal in Gauteng, Sterkspruit in the Eastern Cape and Marikana outside Rustenburg that their grievances would be attended to.
“No community in our country should live in a state of turmoil. The issues they raised will be addressed,” he said. Residents of Bekkersdal threatened to vote against the ANC, but the party had a good showing in the area. It’s in Marikana where the party was punished, with more votes going to the party’s breakaway Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF).
Though the loudest cheers were for the ANC victory throughout the announcement, the EFF received ample applause for their good showing in provincial legislatures and Parliament. With 25 National Assembly seats, the EFF is expected to give the ANC-led government a hard time with accountability.
In his address Zuma promised a government that will serve all, including those who did not vote the ANC.
For the second time the ANC is an opposition party in the Western Cape, where the DA has been ruling since 2009. He congratulated parties that “did well” but comforted the losers saying “losing is part of the democratic process. In democracy you win and lose.”
Zuma attended the IEC’s celebration gala dinner, after which he will address ANC members and supporters at Library Gardens in Johannesburg.