ANC leading voting polls

Sunset at Table Mountain National Park in Cape Town

South Africa's ANC surged into the lead in early official results on Thursday with 55 percent of the vote in the first electoral test of President Cyril Ramaphosa's bid to reinvigorate the ruling party.

The African National Congress (ANC), in power since 1994, surged into the lead with almost 57 percent after more than half the voting districts were officially tallied following Wednesday's vote.

The ANC forced Zuma to quit in February past year and replaced him with Ramaphosa, who had won the party leadership two months earlier by a razor-thin margin. The tallies put the ANC at 57 per cent in the parliamentary race, with the main opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) at 22 per cent and the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) at 10 per cent.

The voting took place on Wednesday and results are expected to be announced by Saturday.

Acting ANC spokesperson Dakota Legote said they are happy with the manner in which the elections were held. "I don't think that will happen", said Carl Vermassen, fund manager, emerging markets debt at Vontobel Asset Management.

The African National Congress was headed for victory in South Africa's election today, although the party was on course for its worst performance since it took power 25 years ago.

"Cabinet will be cut to below 30 positions", Mbalula, the ANC's head of elections and a former police minister, said in an interview on Thursday.

Unemployment has been an issue which President Ramaphosa has pledged to actively combat in his first substantive term if the ANC gets the mandate to continue.

After casting his ballot on Wednesday, Ramaphosa said the election was "heralding a new dawn... a period of renewal, a period of hope".

The ANC's reputation was badly sullied under Zuma.

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The long-ruling African National Congress is projected to win about 57 per cent of the vote in South Africa's latest election, a sharp decline from the last national election and its worst result in a national election since the end of apartheid a quarter century ago.

The ANC swept to power in 1994 under liberation hero Nelson Mandela, who became South Africa's first black president after leading the fight against the brutal apartheid regime.

The ANC achieved its best parliamentary election result in 2004 under former president Thabo Mbeki, when it won more than 69 per cent of the vote.

The Western Cape was the province with one of the highest number of political parties contesting the elections, at 34, and the remainder of the vote was split among a broad range of the old, the new, the odd, the parochial and the no-hopers.

The ANC faces deepening public anger over its failure to tackle poverty and inequality in the post-apartheid era.

"We have made mistakes but we have been sorry about those mistakes and we are saying our people should reinvest their confidence in us", he said.

Some six million young people did not register to vote. "We will work to regain those votes because we are the party for all South Africans of whatever race". Many South Africans see the Democratic Alliance as a white-dominated party, while the EFF is seen as too radical and divisive.

But EFF leader Julius Malema has said that it will not make a deal with the DA and is more likely to look to a coalition with the ANC.

Jessie Duarte, the ANC deputy secretary-general, said the partial results were neither a "disappointment" nor a "surprise".

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