Over 10.8 million votes counted on first day

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Pretoria - Over 10.8 million votes have been counted in the 2009 General Elections, as the first day of election counting wraps up at the Results Operation Centre in Pretoria.

So far, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC) has recorded a 77 percent voter turnout of the 23.1 million people who registered. This figure is close to the 80 percent the commission had expected.

The centre has been a hive of activity since voting closed at 9pm last night with party representatives, government officials, election observers, local and international media and IEC officials watching the leader board eagerly as results poured in from all nine provinces.

The African National Congress (ANC) is leading in all provinces, except the Western Cape, with 7 484 389 votes.

The ANC had also achieved a two thirds majority, paving the way for presidential candidate Jacob Zuma to become South Africa's next democratically elected president.

ANC spokesperson Jessie Duarte said the party pleased about the results, but was cautious to claim victory until all the votes had been counted.

"We are happy with what we are seeing, but we are cautious about making predictions and announcements until all the votes are counted. But we are quite happy with our performance at provincial and national level," said Ms Duarte.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) follows the ANC with 1 841 277 votes received, this translates to a 16.24 percent of the votes.

DA leader Helen Zille told BuaNews earlier that her party was hoping to gain 15 percent of the votes which would translate into a 30 percent increase from the last elections.

Her party has also won the majority of the districts, or 48.8 percent of the votes counted so far in the Western Cape. The ANC had gathered 32.12 percent of the votes in that province.

Commenting on the party receiving the majority of foreign votes in the special voting on 15 April, the Mayor of Cape Town said: "I expected something like that."

She also said that the best way to ensure that expats return to South Africa was to improve the quality of education while also eradicating crime

The Congress of People retained its 7.70 percent or 861 406 of the total votes cast, a feat which was welcomed by presidential candidate Reverend Mvume Dandala.

Reverend Dandala told BuaNews a short while ago that taking into consideration the party was only 128 days old, he was happy with the votes garnered by his party.

"I'm feeling great. More than 700 000 people have endorsed us. Already we have overtaken anything one would have expected, especially by way of new parties formed after 1994," Mr Dandala said

The Inkatha Freedom Party has thus far received 423 945 votes, while the United Democratic Movement has received 115 378. The Independent Democrats received 111 085 of the votes.

However, the final result will only be made known on Friday. The IEC can only declare the winning political party after a period of 48 hours from when voting commences to allow for objections to be made.