Mbeki victorious: 'The people have spoken'
African National Congress stays in power
June 3, 1999
JOHANNESBURG, South Africa (CNN) -- South African president- elect Thabo Mbeki vowed Thursday to move ahead with a program of racial reconciliation and development as the ruling African National Congress (ANC) swept to a landslide election victory.
"The people have spoken," Mbeki told supporters who cheered and danced to joyful music. "In a very clear voice, the people have said democracy is alive and well in South Africa.
"They've directed us to move ahead first with our program of reconciliation and development, so the goal for a better life for all is achieved sooner rather than later."
Mbeki will be sworn in as president June 16, the day Nelson Mandela retires from political life. Mandela was chosen president in 1994 in the country's first all-race elections following the end of the apartheid era of white minority rule.
To underscore the transition to a new leadership team, Mandela did not attend the victory celebration, instead heading abroad for a holiday.
"We will act together to build a South Africa that truly belongs to all who live in it, both black and white," Mbeki said. Among those listening to the victory speech were Winnie Madikezela-Mandela, Mandela's former wife.
"We must work together for African renewal, for the emergence of the 21st century as the African century," he said.
With almost 85 percent of polling stations reporting, latest figures from the Independent Electoral Commission put ANC support at 65.7 percent, with the liberal Democratic Party in second place with 10.2 percent, toppling the former apartheid-era The New National Party as ANC's official opposition.
The NNP was in fourth place with about 7.5 percent of the vote. The Zulu-based Inkatha Freedom Party had 8.3 percent of the vote.
With a two-thirds majority, the ANC would have the power to amend parts of the post-apartheid constitution and its safeguards for minority rights and major institutions.
Final election results weren't expected for several days, but more complete unofficial results were to be released later Thursday.
Chief electoral officer Mandla Mchunu said preliminary estimates put voter turnout at 85 percent of the 18.2 million registered voters.
Former President F.W. de Klerk was unhappy with the lack of support for his old party, the DP.
De Klerk, who freed Mandela from his 27-year imprisonment for anti-apartheid activism and who began dismantling the apartheid regime, said: "It's very disappointing for them.
"The negative thing about the result is that it is a setback for nonracial politics. It's the whites who voted for the DP, and this establishes a racial pattern," de Klerk said.
He said a two-thirds majority of the ANC "would be unhealthy in any democracy, but I am not negative about the future."
The Independent Electoral Commission instructed polling stations unable to clear lines that had formed before Wednesday's official 9 p.m. (1900 GMT) closing time to work until everyone had voted. Some people were still voting at dawn on Thursday.
No significant trouble was reported during the balloting, in sharp contrast to the violence in the 1994 election.
David Steel, speaker of Scotland's new parliament and head of a group of Commonwealth election observers, said the election appeared to have been both free and fair.
"On the day, the process as a whole has been such as to allow a free expression of will by South African voters," he said. "It confirms the emergence of a democratic society."
Reuters contributed to this report.
South Africa's ruling party heads to two-thirds victory
South Africa Government Online (Gov ZA Index)
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