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South Africa election: Democracy ANC fought for has now been used to end its 30-year grip on power | World News

South Africa’s National Results Operation Centre in Johannesburg has been the site of collation, criticism and chaos, and now, a ceremony declaring the historic election outcome that has been steadily shared with the world from its main room.

One that sees the African National Congress (ANC) lose 17% of its 2019 vote share and lose 71 seats in parliament.

The highest ranks of the ANC government gathered to hear the outcome and a speech from their party leader and sitting President Cyril Ramaphosa in the front rows of neatly-placed chairs.

It was a line of the country’s liberation leaders who were now watching the democracy they ushered in after fighting apartheid undercut their 30 years of monopoly on power.

Among them was Defence Minister Thandie Modise who dropped out of high school during the 1976 Soweto student uprising to join the ANC in exile – and later, its military wing uMkhonto weSizwe (MK).

Just before the results were declared that would cement the ANC’s losses, Ms Modise told us from her seat in the audience: “This moment is exactly the reason why I joined the ANC to enable – especially the Africans, black people in this country – the right of choice. This election is also about choice and so the South Africans have expressed themselves in whatever way they wanted.

“We have to accept what they say.”

Defence Minister Thandie Modise says her party has to accept the outcome of the election
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Defence Minister Thandie Modise says her party has to accept the outcome of the election

President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks during the announcement of election results. Pic: Reuters
Image:
President Cyril Ramaphosa speaks at the National Results Operation Centre. Pic: Reuters

It’s a sentiment echoed by Mr Ramaphosa whose speech from the centre peaked with the line: “Our people have spoken. Whether we like it or not – they have spoken.”

One man who is not accepting the outcome is their ex-comrade and former ANC leader.

In this same venue on Saturday, former South African president Jacob Zuma denounced the election results in his capacity as leader of his six month-old opposition party uMkhonto weSizwe (MK) – named after the ANC’s armed resistance group that he and Ms Modise both fought in.

I asked Ms Modise about her thoughts on Mr Zuma’s MK party in the wake of its derailment the ANC’s election success, snatching seats in his home province and largest voting bloc KwaZulu-Natal.

“I have decided not to comment on that party. I’m a member of the uMkhonto weSizwe which was formed by the ANC at that time. I have decided I will stay put in the ANC and that is my choice.” says Ms Modise.

Read more:
What’s left of ANC support is held together by deep loyalty and desperate hope
Inside Mandela’s childhood home – now another impoverished village
Nelson Mandela would ‘turn in his grave at his country today’

Former President Jacob Zuma has formed a new party. Pic: Reuters
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Former President Jacob Zuma arrives at the National Results Operation Centre. Pic: Reuters

A man casts his vote beneath an image of former president Nelson Mandela and the former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu at a polling station in Cape Town
Image:
A man casts his vote beneath an image of former president Nelson Mandela and the former Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu at a polling station in Cape Town

Now that results are declared, the ANC has a two-week deadline to form a coalition government before parliament is in session and the vote for the next president is underway.

In this moment of vulnerability and political transition, the threat of Mr Zuma and his young party of ANC defectors is an important consideration.

“We increased our deployment in hotspot provinces. We heightened security. We deployed extra effort last night even now,” the national commissioner of the South African Police Service, Lt General Sehlahle Fannie Masemola, tells Sky News at the results centre before the final announcement – a day after Mr Zuma called for election results not to be declared and alluded to starting trouble.

“Anybody who is not satisfied there are legal recourses of what to do. That is what anybody should follow – not call for violence or anything like that.”

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