Ramaphosa Urges South Africa to Vote as ANC Faces Toughest Test

(Bloomberg) -- South African President Cyril Ramaphosa urged citizens to vote this week as his party prepares for its toughest election since the advent of democracy three decades ago.

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Turnout as a percentage of the voting-age population plummeted to 47.3% at the last national election in 2019, compared with 85.5% at the nation’s first democratic vote in 1994, according to the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance.

The May 29 national election is set to be the most hotly contested since apartheid ended, with a series of opinion polls showing Ramaphosa’s ruling African National Congress risks losing its parliamentary majority for the first time.

Bloomberg Terminal clients can click on ELEC ZA for more on South Africa’s elections.

Voters have stayed away as Africa’s most-industrialized economy stagnated over the past decade, with power cuts and logistics snarl-ups curtailing output, while poverty, unemployment and crime are rife. A Bloomberg survey of fund managers this month found that crime, fiscal risk and the electricity supply are their biggest long-term concerns about South Africa.

Ramaphosa used an address on state television to list a series of programs his government has undertaken to create jobs, attract foreign investment and rebuild fraying infrastructure. On Friday, he enacted legislation that will establish the National Prosecuting Authority’s Investigating Directorate against Corruption as a permanent entity.

“I call upon all South Africans to out in their numbers to cast their votes in these elections,” he said on Sunday. “Let us build on the progress that we have made at this moment on our path to renewal.”

Ramaphosa expressed concern about reports of attempts to disrupt election activity in the KwaZulu-Natal province, a stronghold of his predecessor Jacob Zuma, who leads the opposition uMkhonto weSizwe party. The electoral commission said in a statement on Sunday that its officials had faced threats in the province.

“We once again call on all candidates, supporters and every South African to refrain from any action that could interfere with the due electoral process,” Ramaphosa said.

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--With assistance from Arijit Ghosh.

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