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South Africans Vote, Many Hoping for Change as Seismic as Mandela’s Rise

WorldSouth Africans Vote, Many Hoping for Change as Seismic as Mandela’s Rise

Tension, excitement and uncertainty consumed South Africa on Wednesday as millions cast their ballots in an election that could end the monopoly on power of the African National Congress, the party that has governed since leading the defeat of apartheid 30 years ago.

Volunteers with the party worked feverishly to hold onto their majority, shuttling voters to polling stations, extolling the party’s virtues from loudspeakers on pickup trucks and handing out the party’s bright yellow T-shirts. Top party officials chanted alongside these foot soldiers, as if rallying them for battle.

Pollsters have widely predicted that the party will win a plurality but draw less than 50 percent of the vote for the first time. If that happens, it will be forced to ally with one or more other parties in order to form a government and remain in power.

Voters are electing a National Assembly, which will choose whether to keep or unseat President Cyril Ramaphosa. They are also electing provincial legislators. Results are expected to be announced this weekend.

With 51 parties challenging the African National Congress, or A.N.C., on the national ballot, voters were awash in choices — amping up the suspense for individual voters and the nation.

“Can you believe, here I am and I’m still not sure who to vote for?” said Kedibone Makhubedu, 47, as she lined up outside of a community center in the township of Soweto.

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