South Africa’s ruling ANC celebrated a commanding lead in an election that will install Jacob Zuma as president and put him under immediate pressure to deal with a faltering economy and improve the lives of the poor.

anc-hailsThe African National Congress held nearly 67 percent of the vote according to latest results, suggesting it would keep the two-thirds majority it would need to change the constitution and further strengthen its hold, of some concern to markets.

Thousands of ruling party supporters danced into the night to celebrate the ANC’s success in the face of the toughest opposition challenge since the end of apartheid in 1994.

Despite the failure of a party of ANC dissidents to make a dramatic impact, the ANC appeared to be just short of the nearly 70 percent of the vote it won in 2004 and to have lost control of the Western Cape province, centre of the tourist industry. Zuma, due to be sworn in early next month, will be under pressure to deliver from day one.

“Zuma tapped into a dramatic change in the mood of South Africa’s poor black majority. Forgotten by the elite, they have run out of patience and are now demanding the economic dividends of democratic rule,” political commentator William Gumede said.

“He is unlikely to have the honeymoon period enjoyed by past ANC governments. If he fails to deliver the poor will also turn against him”. The rand currency weakened slightly as some investors fretted about the size of the ANC victory,but losses were limited by strengthening global equities.



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