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South Africa's ANC seeks to reverse sliding support in tough election

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South Africa's ANC seeks to reverse sliding support in tough election
Voters queue to cast their ballots in South Africa's parliamentary and provincial elections, in Alexandra township, Johannesburg, South Africa, May 8, 2019. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings   -   Copyright  MIKE HUTCHINGS(Reuters)
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By James Macharia and Mfuneko Toyana

JOHANNESBURG (Reuters) – The African National Congress faces its toughest electoral test on Wednesday, seeking to reverse a slide in support from voters frustrated by rampant graft and racial inequalities a generation after it won power in South Africa’s first all-race poll.

South Africans started voting in parliamentary and provincial elections, with queues seen winding from various polling stations. Polling stations will close at 9 p.m. The exact timing of results is uncertain.

“I’m a member of the ANC but I didn’t vote for them this time,” said Thabo Makhene, 32, who works in construction at a polling station in the commercial hub of Johannesburg.

“They need to catch a wake-up. The way they run the state, mishandling state funds, they’ve lost their morals.”

The national election is the first under President Cyril Ramaphosa, who replaced scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma as head of state in February 2018 after four years as Zuma’s deputy.

Ramaphosa has promised to improve service delivery, create jobs and fight corruption.

Ramaphosa, who took over from Zuma as ANC leader in December 2017, is trying to restore faith in the governing party once led by Nelson Mandela after its image was tarnished during Zuma’s decade-long leadership.

The ANC, which has governed South Africa since the end of white minority rule in 1994, won 62 percent of the vote in 2014’s parliamentary election, down from 2009 and far short of its best result, 69 percent in 2004 under President Thabo Mbeki.

The ANC’s biggest challengers are main opposition party the Democratic Alliance and the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters.

(Writing by James Macharia; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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