December 20, 2014
South Africa votes in its first 'Born Free' election
South Africans voted in the first "Born Free" election today, with polls suggesting the allure of the ruling African National Congress (ANC) as the conqueror of apartheid will prevail even among those with no memory of white-minority rule.
Voters young and old wrapped up against the early morning chill to stand in long lines across the country, evoking memories of the huge queues that snaked through streets and fields for South Africa's historic all-race elections in 1994.
A firm idea of the outcome should emerge by midday tomorrow although there is little doubt about the result. Polls put ANC support at around 65 percent, only a shade lower than the 65.9 percent it won in the 2009 election that brought President Jacob Zuma to power.
The ANC's enduring popularity has surprised analysts who said the party could suffer as its glorious past recedes into history and voters focus instead on the sluggish economic growth and slew of scandals that have typified Zuma's first term.
His personal approval ratings have dipped, but Zuma appeared relaxed and assured as he voted at a school near Nkandla, ending what he described as a "very challenging" campaign.
"I hope that all voters will cast their votes free," he told reporters. "This is our right that we fought for."