(Globe & Mail) – South Africans voted in the first “Born Free” election on Wednesday, although polls suggest the allure of the ruling African National Congress as the conqueror of apartheid will prevail even among those with no memory of white-minority rule.
Polling stations opened at 0500 GMT, with voters waiting in line, many wrapped up against the early morning chill of the southern hemisphere winter. They close at 1900 GMT and a firm idea of the outcome should be available by midday on May 8.
Opinion polls suggest there is no doubt about the overall result, with ANC support estimated at around 65 percent, only a shade lower than the 65.9 percent it won in the 2009 election that brought President Jacob Zuma to power.
The resilience of ANC support has surprised analysts who a year ago were saying it could struggle at the polls as its glorious past recedes into history and voters focus instead on the sluggish economic growth and slew of scandals that have typified Zuma’s first term.
Africa’s most sophisticated economy has struggled to recover from a 2009 recession – its first since the 1994 demise of apartheid – and the ANC’s efforts to stimulate growth and tackle 25 percent unemployment have been hampered by powerful unions.