Mandela hails South Africa election results
June 6, 1999
CAPE TOWN, South Africa (Reuters) -- South African President Nelson Mandela on Sunday welcomed the election victory of his ruling African National Congress and dismissed opposition reservations about its huge majority.
In his first public appearance since he voted on Wednesday, Mandela, 80, quoted his deputy and heir, Thabo Mbeki, in response to questions about the ANC's 66 percent win.
"The president of the ANC and the president-designate of the country put it very well: The people have spoken," he said.
Mbeki, 56, began his victory speech on Thursday with those words, saying the ANC -- which fought a 30-year guerrilla war against apartheid and won a landslide in the country's first democratic election in 1994 -- had been given a mandate by the people for accelerated change.
With more than 90 percent of the vote counted, the ANC appeared on Sunday likely to fall between one and five seats short of a two-thirds majority in the National Assembly.
Mandela praises ANC restraint
Investors and opposition parties have been concerned that a two-thirds majority in parliament would give the ANC the power to change some clauses of the post-apartheid constitution.
"This concern that a two-thirds majority will be abused by the ANC flies in the face of the facts of history," Mandela told reporters in the garden of his official Cape Town residence.
He said the ANC had shown in the government of national unity that has ruled since 1994 that it would not abuse its dominance to impose its will on others.
"None of them (the ANC's coalition partners) can ever say we abused our majority," he said.
Changes to the constitution, which guarantees the independence of the central Reserve Bank and several public watchdog bodies, require the support of two-thirds of the 400 National Assembly members.
But analysts say complex rules for the allocation of seats mean the ANC probably would need between 67 and 69 percent of the vote to win a two-thirds majority -- 267 seats.
Mandela leaves office June 16
Mandela has stayed out of the limelight since the election, but he is scheduled to attend a cabinet meeting in Pretoria on Wednesday and to address parliament for the last time on June 14, when the new house meets to confirm Mbeki's succession.
Mandela and his wife, Graca Machel, entertained Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's wife, Safia Farkash Albarassi, at lunch in Cape Town. He told reporters he expected Gadhafi to pay a state visit before he formally hands power to Mbeki. Mandela retires formally on June 16.
As vote counting continued on Sunday, the ANC and the New National Party battled for the support of smaller parties to win control of the prize Western Cape province.
With 98 percent of the vote counted, the Independent Electoral Commission said preliminary figures gave the ANC 66.4 percent support -- up from 62.5 percent in 1994 when Mandela, a prisoner in apartheid jails for 27 years, was installed as president.
Lawyer Tony Leon's Democratic Party was on track to be the main opposition with 9.57 percent of the vote, up from 1.7 percent in the historic election which consigned apartheid to history five years ago.
Chief Mangosuthu Buthelezi's Inkatha Freedom Party was in third place at 8.53 percent, followed by the renamed New National Party, which imposed apartheid for over 40 years and saw its support fall to 6.9 percent from 20 percent in 1994.
Final count expected Monday
Electoral officials still awaited results from 40 polling stations in remote rural areas. They said a preliminary final vote count was now expected on Monday.
The local Sunday Times said Mbeki could offer Buthelezi the post of deputy president in exchange for the premier's chair in the hotly contested province of KwaZulu-Natal.
IEC figures gave the Zulu-dominated IFP just over 40 percent support in KwaZulu-Natal compared to the ANC's 39.7 percent.
The IFP won 10 percent of the national vote five years ago, enough to secure three posts in a transitional coalition cabinet, and a slender majority in KwaZulu-Natal.
Buthelezi has declined to say whether he would take the IFP into another coalition government and accept a new cabinet post.
ANC slides slightly in South African recount
South Africa Government Online (Gov ZA Index)
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