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Archive for the ‘Africa Section’ Category

Ruling party’s candidate wins Burundi’s presidential poll

May 25, 2020

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — The candidate of Burundi’s ruling party, Evariste Ndayishimiye, has been declared the winner of the country’s presidential election. Ndayishimiye won with 69% of the vote in the election which took place on May 20, the country’s election commission announced Monday. Because he garnered more than 50% of the vote, Ndayishimiye will not have to go to a runoff election and he is expected to be inaugurated in August.

Ndayishimiye, 52, will succeed President Pierre Nkurunziza, who has been in power since 2005. Both are from Burundi’s ruling party which has said Nkurunziza will have the title “Supreme Guide” after he steps down from the presidency. Many believe that Nkurunziza will wield considerable influence over the new president.

Seven candidates contested the election in which ballots were cast by more than 4 million voters of Burundi’s 11 million people, according to the election commission. The candidate coming in second place was Agathon Rwasa, leader of the opposition CNL, who got 24% of the vote, according to the election commission.

Rwasa said that the elections were marred by fraud with some districts reporting more votes than the number of registered voters. Rwasa also condemned the government’s action to block social media on polling day, saying it could have encouraged election fraud.

“We fully reject and protest these results because we know very well our party won,” Aime Magera, a representative of Rwasa’s CNL party told The Associated Press. Magera claimed his party won with 57% of the vote.

“We will go to court to challenge this,” Magera said. Some observers worry that disputed results could lead to the kind of violence that marked the previous vote in 2015. Ndayishimiye has been serving as the ruling party’s secretary-general and is an ally of Nkurunziza. He dropped out of university to fight alongside Nkurunziza in Burundi’s civil war. He later served as minister of interior.

“Ndayishimiye has worked for unity for many years and many Burundians have decided to give him chance,” said Desire Manirakiza in Gitega, Burundi’s capital city. Ndayishimiye is known for consulting the viewpoint of others but many political analysts say he is not expected to take any decisions different from Nkurunziza.

“He will be a clown,” said Jean Baptiste Bireha, a Burundian journalist who is in exile. Outgoing leader Nkurunziza surprised many when he agreed to step down last year. Early this year parliament agreed to award him with $530,000 and a luxury villa as well as his honorary title.

Nkurunziza rose to power in 2005 following the signing of the Arusha accords ending a 13-year civil war that killed about 300,000 people. He was re-elected unopposed in 2010 after the opposition boycotted the vote. He then claimed he was eligible for a third term in 2015 — a move that critics called unconstitutional.

Street demonstrations erupted against Nkurunziza’s decision to run for a third term. The deadly turmoil that followed badly damaged global relations, and Burundi became the first country to leave the International Criminal Court after it started investigating allegations of abuses.

The U.N. human rights office reported more than 300 extrajudicial killings and was kicked out of the country. Burundi’s government has denied allegations it targets its people. Recently the Burundi government expelled the representative of the World Health Organization.

In fight against virus, South Africa expects a long wait

May 24, 2020

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — With her winning smile and outgoing nature, Fino Dlamini was a natural to succeed in South Africa’s booming tourism industry. Her bicycle tours of Soweto took visitors to historic sites, including the homes of Nelson Mandela and Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and to restaurants where they could meet South Africans. The tourists and locals would quickly connect over shared interests in sports or TV shows, forming instant bonds that were “magic,” she said.

Business was good in January and February, and projections for the rest of 2020 were excellent. Then the coronavirus brought everything to an abrupt halt. Dlamini was confined to her small home under a strict lockdown, with few options for earning money.

Millions of other South Africans share in the same misfortune. The country with the continent’s most developed economy also has its highest number of confirmed infections — more than 22,000, representing 20% of Africa’s total. And because the disease may not hit its peak for four more months, leaders expect to spend an especially long time balancing the risks to public health with the economic activity essential to the national welfare.

“The risk of a massive increase in infections is now greater than ever,” South African President Cyril Ramaphosa told the nation Sunday night even as he announced a further loosening of the lockdown starting June 1 to allow some 8 million more people to return to work.

While South Africa has not seen the explosion of virus infections that emerged in Europe, cases “have now started to rise sharply,” Ramaphosa warned, with one-third of cases recorded in the past week alone.

Health experts have suggested that a contributing factor in the lower number in cases is the country’s youthful population, with just 3% of people above the age of 60. Africa’s small elderly population may help explain why the disease is spreading relatively slowly across the continent.

South Africa is still in the early stages of the pandemic, leading health experts to predict the peak could come as late as August or September. A surge of cases in Cape Town suggests that city might reach its maximum near the end of June. The forecasts portend a lengthy wait to resume normal activity.

Other African countries appear to be on a similar trajectory. Forty-three of the continent’s 54 nations have imposed containment measures, including lockdowns, bans on public gatherings, school closures and curfews.

The lockdown that began March 27 in South Africa is increasing tensions in Soweto, said Dlamini, who closed her tourism business. “People are destitute and feeling desperate,” Dlamini said. “It’s heartbreaking and scary. I tell friends that we must get through this hard time, that a vaccine will be found and we can get back to business. … But right now, it’s hard.”

With 25 bicycles, a vehicle and a trailer sitting idle, Dlamini decided to move into something entirely new. She is now selling meat products from her car to Soweto residents. “Ribs, pork trotters, beef bones — these are all popular,” she said. “People are calling me for repeat orders, so business is looking good.”

Five weeks into the lockdown, South Africa began a gradual easing on May 1, allowing selected mines, factories and businesses to reopen with up to 30% of employees. Restaurants can serve takeaway meals, and people are permitted to walk outside for exercise from 6 a.m. to 9 a.m.

But the economy, already in recession, keeps plummeting. The unemployment rate was at a staggering 29% even before the virus hit, and the jobless rate could rise to 50%, according to the Chamber of Commerce. Lines of hungry South Africans stretch for miles at sites where the government or charities distribute food.

“Our people need to eat. They need to earn a living,” Ramaphosa said when launching a $26 billion recovery package, the largest in Africa. It includes increased payments to 16 million people already on welfare and monthly payments to the newly unemployed.

The economic downturn is expected to shrink Africa’s economies by more than 5%, according to the NKC African Economics research firm. Most punishing are the effects on the millions of Africans who rely upon daily trading to earn money to eat.

Ghana, in West Africa, was the first country to lift its restrictions, on April 20, in response to economic pressures. Ten days later, the country registered a spike in confirmed cases of COVID-19. South Africa is still a long way from full economic activity, and further easing will be determined by the spread of the disease and hospitalizations.

The country is “taking a science-based approach,” said Dr. Salim Abdool Karim, who leads the national coronavirus council. Cape Town and the surrounding Western Cape province are at the center of the outbreak, with 65% of the country’s total cases. South Africa has screened more than 8 million of its population of 57 million and is now testing more than 20,000 people per day. Tens of thousands of community health workers with experience in tracking contacts of tuberculosis patients are now doing the same for positive cases of COVID-19.

In preparation for more infections, South Africa has built field hospitals with an estimated 20,000 beds and has created areas where people living in crowded conditions can be quarantined if they test positive. However, the country is short of intensive care beds.

Amid the medical challenges, the imploding economy puts pressure on Ramaphosa to reopen more of the country. Other African economies face the same problem as they endure two simultaneous blows: the virus outbreak and a slump in demand for key exports to Europe and Asia.

With the majority of Africans eking out their living on a day-to-day basis, any restrictive measures are quickly felt and “risk civil disobedience if protracted,” said Benedict Craven, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s country risk manager for Africa.

In the effort to balance health and economic needs, “there is no way of successfully attending to the one issue without disregarding the other,” said Pieter du Preez, senior economist at NKC African Economics. He warned of an “economic quagmire,” including increased unemployment, widespread hunger and a humanitarian crisis.

South Africa is rated as one of the world’s most unequal countries, and the president has said in his evening addresses to the nation that his response to the pandemic aims to build a more equitable country.

Dlamini, the tour operator now selling meat, said she is inspired by Ramaphosa’s approach, which includes government deliveries of water to areas that did not have it and discussions about the possible installation of toilets in schools that offered only pit latrines.

“We are showing that we can doing something here in South Africa, that we can build a more equal society,” Dlamini said. “We must work for that!”

Bram Janssen in Johannesburg contributed.

Top fugitive in Rwanda’s genocide arrested outside Paris

May 16, 2020

KIGALI, Rwanda (AP) — One of the most wanted fugitives in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide, a wealthy businessman accused of supplying machetes to killers and broadcasting propaganda urging mass slaughter, has been arrested outside Paris, authorities said Saturday.

Felicien Kabuga, who had a $5 million bounty on his head, had been accused of equipping militias in the genocide that killed more than 800,000 ethnic Tutsis and moderate Hutus who tried to protect them.

The 84-year-old Kabuga was arrested as a result of a joint investigation with the U.N.’s International Residual Mechanism for Criminal Tribunals office of the prosecutor, French authorities said. He had been living in a town north of Paris, Asnieres-Sur-Seine, under an assumed name, the appeals court’s prosecutor’s office said.

The U.N.’s International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda indicted Kabuga in 1997 on charges related to conspiracy to commit genocide, persecution and extermination. Rwandan prosecutors have said financial documents found in the capital, Kigali, after the genocide indicated that Kabuga used dozens of his companies to import vast quantities of machetes that were used to slaughter people.

The wealthy businessman also was accused of establishing the station Radio Television Mille Collines that broadcast vicious propaganda against the ethnic Tutsi, as well as training and equipping the Interahamwe militia that led the killing spree.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres welcomed Kabuga’s arrest, according to U.N. spokesman Stephane Dujarric said. It “sends a powerful message that those who are alleged to have committed such crimes cannot evade justice and will eventually be held accountable, even more than a quarter of a century later,” Dujarric said.

Mausi Segun, Africa director at Human Rights Watch, described the arrest as “an important step towards justice for hundreds of thousands of genocide victims.” Kabuga was close to former President Juvenal Habyarimana, whose death when his plane was shot down over Kigali sparked the 100-day genocide. Kabuga’s daughter married Habyarimana’s son.

Kabuga is expected to be transferred to the custody of the U.N. mechanism, where he will stand trial. It is based at The Hague in the Netherlands. “The arrest of Kabuga today is a reminder that those responsible for genocide can be brought to account, even 26 years after their crimes,” the mechanism’s chief prosecutor Serge Brammertz said in a statement. He said partners who contributed to the arrest included law enforcement agencies and prosecution services from Rwanda, Belgium, the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Luxembourg, Switzerland and the United States.

Officials in Rwanda hailed the arrest. According to prosecutors, other top fugitives still at large include Protais Mpiranya, the former commander of the Presidential Guards, and former Defense Minister Augustin Bizimana.

Guterres, the U.N. chief, stressed that all countries have an obligation to cooperate in the location, arrest and transfer of those sought by international courts, Dujarric said. “The secretary-general’s thoughts today are first and foremost with the victims of Mr. Kabuga’s alleged crimes, the victims of other serious international crimes, and their families,” the U.N. spokesman said. “Ending impunity is essential for peace, security and justice.”

For years after the genocide, relations between Rwanda and France were under strain, with Rwanda’s ruling party blaming the French government in part for supporting the genocidal regime. But under French President Emmanuel Macron, Kigali and Paris appear to have made some amends. In 2018, French authorities said they dropped an investigation into the 1994 plane crash, citing lack of sufficient evidence. Several people close to Rwandan President Paul Kagame had been under investigation and his government denounced the probe, saying it was aimed at exonerating France’s suspected role in the genocide.

In 2019, Macron announced the creation of a commission tasked with investigating France’s alleged role. “After many years, the old guards in the French government who could have been protecting Kabuga have left power and you find the young generation have no interest in protecting the aging fugitive under the new administration,” asserted Gonza Muganwa, a Rwandan political analyst.

“It’s clear he was being protected and some powerful people knew his hiding place. They sold him.”

Elaine Ganley in Paris and Mike Corder in Amsterdam contributed.

‘Complete collapse of economies’ ahead as Africa faces virus

April 05, 2020

KAMPALA, Uganda (AP) — Some of Uganda’s poorest people used to work here, on the streets of Kampala, as fruit sellers sitting on the pavement or as peddlers of everything from handkerchiefs to roasted peanuts.

Now they’re gone and no one knows when they will return, victims of a global economic crisis linked to the coronavirus that could wipe out jobs for millions across the African continent, many who live hand-to-mouth with zero savings.

“We’ve been through a lot on the continent. Ebola, yes, African governments took a hit, but we have not seen anything like this before,” Ahunna Eziakonwa, the United Nations Development Program regional director for Africa, told The Associated Press. “The African labor market is driven by imports and exports and with the lockdown everywhere in the world, it means basically that the economy is frozen in place.

“And with that, of course, all the jobs are gone.” More than half of Africa’s 54 countries have imposed lockdowns, curfews, travel bans or other measures in a bid to prevent local transmission of the virus. They range from South Africa, where inequality and crime plague Africa’s most developed country, to places like Uganda, where the informal sector accounts for more than 50% of the country’s gross domestic product.

The deserted streets in downtown Kampala, Uganda’s capital, underscore the challenge facing authorities across the world’s poorest continent, home to 1.3 billion people: how to look after millions of people stuck at home for weeks or even months of lockdown.

With some governments saying they’re unable to offer direct support, the fate of Africa’s large informal sector could be a powerful example of what experts predict will be unprecedented damage to economies in the developing world. Among the millions made jobless are casual laborers, petty traders, street vendors, mechanics, taxi operators and conductors, housekeepers and waitresses, and dealers in everything from used clothes to construction hardware.

Unless the virus’ spread can be controlled, up to 50% of all projected job growth in Africa will be lost as aviation, services, exports, mining, agriculture and the informal sector all take a hit, Eziakonwa said.

“We will see a complete collapse of economies and livelihoods. Livelihoods will be wiped out in a way we have never seen before,” she warned. The U.N. Economic Commission for Africa has said the pandemic could seriously dent already stagnant growth in many countries, with oil-exporting nations like Nigeria and Angola losing up to $65 billion in revenue as prices fall.

Economies in sub-Saharan Africa are seen as especially vulnerable because many are heavily indebted and some struggle just to implement their budgets under less stressful circumstances. Now the continent might need up to $10.6 billion in unanticipated increases in health spending, and revenue losses could lead to debt becoming unsustainable, UNECA chief Vera Songwe said in March.

Urgent calls for an economic stimulus package have followed. Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed has spoken of an “existential threat” to Africa’s economies while seeking up to $150 billion from G20 nations. A meeting of African finance ministers agreed that the continent needs a stimulus package of up to $100 billion, including a waiver of up to $44 billion in interest payments.

South African President Cyril Ramaphosa backed the calls for a stimulus package, saying in a recent speech that the pandemic “will reverse the gains that many countries have made in recent years.” Several African nations have been among the fastest-growing in the world.

The International Monetary Fund on March 25 said it had received requests for emergency financing from close to 20 African countries, with requests from another 10 or more likely to follow. The IMF has since approved credit facilities for at least two West African nations — Guinea and Senegal — facing virus-related economic disruption.

Further challenges exist. Rampant corruption in many African countries feeds inequality, and poor or non-existent public services stoke public anger that sometimes escalates into street protests and deadly violence.

Measures to control the spread of COVID-19 could make that worse as people trapped at home go hungry. UNECA has called for emergency actions to protect 30 million jobs immediately at risk across Africa, particularly in the tourism and airline sectors, saying the continent will be hit harder than others with an economic toll that will exacerbate “current fragilities.”

After Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni announced that food markets could remain open under orders to decongest crowded areas, some fruit vendors were assaulted by armed men and had goods confiscated, drawing an apology from the army commander. Museveni later announced an effective lockdown, closing public transport and all but essential businesses.

“What am I going to eat if he stops us from working? Museveni cannot do that,” said Marius Kamusiime, who operates a passenger motorcycle. “We may have to go back to the village if this corona becomes serious.”

On a continent where extended families are common, some say, one job loss can spell doom for up to a dozen or more people. “Sitting down is not an option because they don’t have money locked away,” said Eziakonwa, the UNDP official in charge of Africa.

Some governments such as Rwanda are distributing food to those who need it, but there are questions about sustainability. “We do know what to do to bring the economy back to life. What we don’t know is how to bring back people to life,” said Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo. He has created a virus alleviation fund to look after the neediest and has donated the equivalent of his salary for three months.

But many want to see more support, including tax relief that benefits a wider section of the urban poor. In Kenya, President Uhuru Kenyatta has announced temporary tax relief to people described as low-income earners — those earning up to $240 in monthly wages — as well a reduction in the maximum income tax rate from 30% to 25%. He also gave $94 million to “vulnerable members of our society” to protect them from economic damage.

But other leaders say they cannot afford such benefits. Noting that “the rich countries are unlocking staggering sums” to stimulate their economies, Benin’s President Patrice Talon said that his West African country, “like most African countries, does not have these means.”

Francis Kokutse in Accra, Ghana; Elias Meseret in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia; and Virgile Ahissou in Cotonou, Benin contributed.

South African cops storm Cape Town church to expel migrants

April 02, 2020

CAPE TOWN, South Africa (AP) — South African police wearing riot gear forced their way into a church in central Cape Town on Thursday to remove hundreds of foreign migrants who had been sheltering there for months.

The operation at the Central Methodist Church was aimed at ending a long standoff between the group of foreign nationals and city authorities. The migrants refused to leave the church and had previously demanded that South Africa relocate them to other countries, including the United States and Canada, because they had been victims of xenophobic threats in South Africa last year.

Local media reported that police officers broke down the front and rear doors of the church in the historic Greenmarket Square to remove the migrants. The migrants were led onto buses and driven away, reportedly to a temporary camp outside the city.

South Africa is in the midst of a 21-day lockdown because of the coronavirus pandemic and people are only allowed to leave their homes to buy food, medical supplies and other essential items, or to perform essential work.

The migrants will have to remain at the temporary camp for at least the remaining two weeks of the lockdown. South African authorities have said they will verify the identities of the migrants and properly process those seeking asylum.

Police undertook a similar operation last month to remove migrants who had been camping in the square outside the church.

South Africa’s ruling ANC set to celebrate election victory

May 11, 2019

PRETORIA, South Africa (AP) — South Africa’s ruling African National Congress on Saturday was preparing to celebrate its win in national elections, with the formal announcement of final results coming later in the day.

With all votes counted, the ANC had 57.5%, the electoral commission said . While a win was never in doubt, it was the worst-ever showing at the polls for the party of the late Nelson Mandela which has ruled South Africa since the end of apartheid 25 years ago. The party won 62% of the vote in 2014.

Voter turnout was another low at 65%, reflecting the frustrations of many South Africans after corruption scandals around the ANC that led former president Jacob Zuma to resign last year under party pressure. Turnout was 74% in 2014.

Current President Cyril Ramaphosa, a Mandela protege, has vowed to clean up the rot and apologized to South Africans. But his new five-year term is threatened by Zuma allies within the ANC’s leadership, who could pressure the party to oust him from power.

Observers have said South Africa’s economy, the most developed in sub-Saharan Africa, would be further weakened if Ramaphosa is removed by his own party. He narrowly won the party leadership in late 2017, weeks before Zuma was pushed out.

Ramaphosa’s image as a leader willing to rid the government of graft helped the ANC’s showing in this election, political analyst Karima Brown said. “It’s a departure from a president who faced continuous allegations of corruption,” she said.

But ANC secretary-general Ace Magashule, seen as leading the party faction opposed to Ramaphosa, has said the victory could not be attributed to the president alone. Widespread disillusionment over the ANC and long-standing issues of high unemployment and poor delivery of basic services had been expected to give top opposition parties a boost in Wednesday’s election.

Top opposition party the liberal Democratic Alliance slipped in its share of votes, however, winning 20.7%, down from 22.2% in 2014. The populist Economic Freedom Fighters in just their second showing in parliamentary and presidential elections did gain ground, winning 10.7% of the vote, up from 6.3% five years ago.

The EFF won support notably among younger voters with its outspoken demands for a bigger share of South Africa’s wealth from the country’s white minority. It struck a chord in a country where unemployment is 27% and many in the black majority struggle to get by. The party also had promised to expropriate white-owned land without compensation and nationalize mines and banks.

The ANC barely retained control of the country’s economic hub of Gauteng province, which includes Johannesburg and the capital, Pretoria, with just over 50% of the vote. ANC deputy secretary-general Jessie Duarte said the party was now focused on constituting a credible government. “The task now is to roll up our sleeves and to sort these problems out,” she said.

In South Africa, the president and parliament are not elected directly. The number of votes won by each party determines how many representatives are sent to the national 400-seat legislature. The president of the country is the leader of the party that gets the most votes.

“I knew that the ANC would win the elections so my vote for them did not go waste,” said Karabo Kgole, a gas station attendant in Pretoria.

South Africa votes with corruption, jobs as big issues

May 08, 2019

JOHANNESBURG (AP) — South Africans voted Wednesday in presidential and parliamentary elections, with signs of a relatively low turnout and voters saying they were disillusioned by widespread corruption and unemployment.

Despite the demise of apartheid 25 years ago, South Africa remains divided by economic inequality . The African National Congress, the party of Nelson Mandela that has been in power since 1994, is likely to win a majority but it will face a difficult challenge to match the 62% of the vote it got five years ago.

The party has been tarnished by corruption scandals and a national unemployment rate of 27%. President Cyril Ramaphosa, who leads the ANC, has campaigned on promises to clean up his party, an acknowledgment of the problems that forced out his predecessor last year.

“Corruption got into the way,” Ramaphosa said after voting, saying graft has prevented his party from serving the people. Selina Molapo, a 38-year-old resident of Tembisa township in eastern Johannesburg, agreed with him, complaining the ANC has not delivered on its promise of jobs.

“In 2014, we voted for the ANC but our situation has not changed,” Molapo said. “I am voting for a different party.” Firebrand opposition leader Julius Malema voted in his home area of Polokwane in northern Limpopo province and said he expects a good turnout for his party, the populist, leftist Economic Freedom Fighters .

“If the people want to continue unemployed, if the people want to continue landless, then they can continue voting for the same party,” Malema said, referring to the ruling ANC. “But if you need change, the EFF is the way to go!”

Young voters make up about 20% of the electorate and largely support Malema, who broke from the ANC six years ago. However, registration of voters under 30 was relatively low. Mmusi Maimane, leader of the largest opposition party, the Democratic Alliance, was one of the first voters at the Dobsonville polling station in Soweto, Johannesburg’s largest black township.

“Soweto represents to me the home of the struggle against apartheid and it is where we are now struggling against corruption and for a new government,” Maimane said. Black support for his party is limited because it is generally perceived to be run by whites.

The ANC has vowed to embark on a program of seizing white-owned land without compensation, for which it needs a 67% majority to change South Africa’s constitution. In the most likely scenario, the ANC will need to form a coalition government with another party to get the votes needed. That is likely to be the EFF, which supports land seizures.

If the ANC’s share of the vote slips below 60%, Ramaphosa could be vulnerable and his party could oust him and choose a new leader. More than 40 smaller parties also are vying for power in the balloting.

Neither the president nor the parliament is elected directly. Voters cast ballots for a national party and the number of votes won by each party determines how many representatives are sent to the legislature. The president is the leader of the party that gets the most votes.

At the polling station in the overwhelmingly white, upscale Parkhurst suburb of Johannesburg, a lanky young man hustling as one of the city’s “car guards” — the ubiquitous youths who offer to keep an eye on a vehicle while the driver is away — paused to say he had given up on the ANC and was voting for the Democratic Alliance instead.

“They ate a lot of millions,” 26-year-old Anthony Molele said of the ANC’s many corruption scandals. At a lonely-looking table for the populist EFF, party agents and domestic workers Marie Lekgothoane and Sophie Tsoai watched the arrival of mostly white voters.

Lekgothoane described how she and her 13-year-old daughter must wake up at 5 a.m. daily to commute more than an hour by minibus to Parkhurst, where she works and once lived before being asked to move out.

“We struggle a lot,” Lekgothoane said, adding that she has put her faith in the EFF and its promise of change. “I like this party with all of my heart,” she said. “I like the way they talk.” When South Africa held its first all-race elections in 1994 after the end of the harsh apartheid system of racial discrimination, voters waited in long, snaking lines. Few such scenes were evident Wednesday, except in the poor Diepsloot township north of Johannesburg.

Voter apathy could be trouble for the ANC. Winston Rammoko, 41, did not vote because he said he did not believe it would be significant. “We all know that the ANC is going to win the elections so I do not think mine will make any difference,” said Rammoko, who sells tires in the eastern suburb of Kempton Park. “They have won since 1994 and it will happen again.”

Tracy van Tonder, 20, is one of the younger South Africans who did not register to vote. “By the time I got interested in voting, the deadline to vote had already passed,” she said while accompanying her older sister. Van Tonder is one of the nearly 6 million eligible voters under 30 who did not register.

Some 26 million people of South Africa’s population of 57 million are eligible to vote, and the day is a national holiday to encourage turnout. Most of the 22,900 polling stations opened at 7 a.m. and closed at 9 p.m. (0500 to 1900 GMT).

Preliminary results will be announced from the electoral commission in the capital, Pretoria. Final results are not expected for 48 hours.

Associated Press writer Cara Anna contributed.

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