By GENE MUSTAIN and MICHAEL O. ALLEN, Daily News Staff Writers | Monday, May 2, 1994
JOHANNESBURG—Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress was headed for victory yesterday with a 54.7% share of the vote so far in South Africa’s national election.
Despite slow and chaotic vote counting, the ANC and its president, Mandela, appeared headed for a convincing, yet mildly disappointing victory in seven of South Africa’s nine new provinces.
About 23 million ballots were cast in the nation’s first all-race election last week.
With only about 21% of the vote counted, ANC spokesmen were reluctant to claim victory. But they projected that the party would receive 54% to 58% of the vote—about 20% more than former President F.W. de Klerk’s National Party.
The strong showing by the National Party, however, suggests a post-apartheid power structure similar to the Mandela-de Klerk team that led the transition to democracy.
“In spite of the proportional voting system, we are headed for a two-party system,” Sampie Terreblance, referring to the allocation of parliament and cabinet seats according to each party’s vote total.
Five percent of the vote is needed to win a cabinet seat.
At the plush Carlton Hotel in downtown Johannesburg, a grinning Mandela beamed down from posters from the walls of the ballroom where ANC planned its victory celebration.
“We have been boogieing since last night,” said ANC spokesman Pollo Jordan. “We hope to make an announcement and are disappointed we can’t. But we will boogie again tonight because we just think it’s about time we did.”
The hotel ballroom was bedecked in balloons and bunting in the ANC’s green, black and gold colors. People hugged each other and laughed loudly while waiters and waitresses served drinks and stocked buffet tables.
Mandela stayed away, not wishing to appear presumptuous by formally claiming victory with only a small portion of the votes counted.
The projected ANC vote is within range of pre-election opinion polls but well short of the 66% that would have given it firm control of the new national government and key amendments to the interim constitution.
While both the election and the vote counting have been marred by irregularities, Jordan said that the ANC believes that “on the whole, the election has been free and fair.”
The independent agency running the election must certify the election as free and fair before the ANC can claim the reins of power.
While the ANC and the National Party performed as about polls indicated, the election contained some surprises—notably the dismal showing of both the liberal Democratic Party and the militant Pan Africanist Congress.
By contrast, the white, pro-apartheid Freedom Front did better than expected, and may wind up with enough votes to gain a cabinet seat in the government.
The Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party was a distant third with 4.5%.
Election officials said they hope to finish the vote-counting—which is being done at sites across the nation—today.
With News Wire Services