South Africa election: ANC to face coalition demands as they lose majority in landmark vote

The cogs are turning hard and fast in the African National Congress (ANC) machinery as a bid to win the election becomes an effort to survive the loss.

After 30 years of dominating South Africa's political landscape, the ANC is set to lose its parliamentary majority of over 50% by a larger margin than even their harshest critics predicted.

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) currently projects the party will end up with 40% of the vote - down from their share of 57.5% in the 2019 election.

Each update of the national results dashboard is bringing that forecast closer to reality.

"We have done this for eight years and we have been very accurate within 2% for the big parties," says Carike Karsten, senior technologist at CSIR.

To stay in power, the ANC will have to form a coalition with one or more of the 51 opposition parties - some of which they have shunned in the past. Now the tables have turned, they're gleefully gearing up to leverage their demands.

"It's finally happened," John Steenhuisen, the main opposition leader of the Democratic Alliance (DA), told us at the National Results Centre. "No party has a majority and now it's going to have to be a lot more consensus, a lot more compromise.

"And this is not the ANC, South Africa anymore. This is now going to be a multi-party South Africa."

The fact does remain that while they don't have a majority, the ANC is still the leader in this race. The DA is trailing behind with roughly 21 to 22% of the vote.

Unwilling to discuss coalition talks until the results are fully counted, the ANC national spokesperson Mahlengi Bhengu-Motsiri tells us nearby in the same room: "We are still the largest party that is leading in the polls so that is where I would like to start off.

"It is a dip and it is also a sign that democracy is at work in South Africa."

The results centre itself is a testament to the maturity of South Africa's democracy.

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But the sharper edge of the country's parliamentary party politics lies in the unknown fate of the ANC leader and current president, Cyril Ramaphosa.

He is now at the mercy of opposition parties and ex-comrades including former President Jacob Zuma.

Mr Zuma defected from the ANC to become a kingmaker with his six-month old uMKhonto weSizwe (MK) party - which is now sitting firmly in the third spot on the results dashboard.

Would MK consider a coalition with the ANC? Their spokesperson Ndhlela scoffed and told us: "When it comes to the ANC, the question is: will we partner with the ANC of Cyril Ramaphosa? The ANC of Cyril Ramaphosa? No."