Counting under way in South Africa’s elections

8 May 2014

Politicians showed off their party colours at the Independent Electoral Commission’s (IEC’s) national Results Operations Centre in Pretoria on Thursday morning as the focus shifted from voting to counting in South Africa’s fifth democratic elections.

The atmosphere at the centre was busy and jovial, with political party representatives keeping a close watch on the giant blue results screens, while others interacted with their competitors.

The centre, which is shaped like a stock exchange trading floor, also serves as a base for journalists, political analysts and election observers.

Just over 35 percent of votes had been counted by 9am, just 12 hours after polling stations closed at 9pm on Wednesday.

The African National Congress (ANC) was leading the national election with over 2.8-million votes (59%), followed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) with 1.2-million votes (26%) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) – the new kid on the block in South African politics – with over 204 000 votes (4.2%).

“It’s always important to kick off fast out of the blocks,” ANC Secretary-General Gwede Mantashe told SAnews. Dressed in a yellow, black and green ANC party T-shirt, khakhi pants and a black jacket, Mantashe expressed confidence in how the party had fared. “I think we’ve kicked out of the blocks very fast and I think we should keep the momentum.”

Dressed warmly in a purple coat, DA leader Helen Zille was also present at the results centre, which was abuzz with excitement as results continued to pour in. Zille said that although there had been some “hiccups”, the elections had gone off as smoothly as could be expected.

Representatives of the EFF, dressed in their trademark red berets and some in red jumpers, could be seen conducting interviews with the various media houses stationed at the centre.

Earlier, Mantashe went to “check how the fighters are doing”, and could be seen exchanging banter with them.