Millions of South Africans cast their votes in 2024 elections

JOHANNESBURG - South Africans vote on Wednesday in what may be the most consequential election in decades.

Polls open at 7am and close at 9pm, with 27 million registered voters called to elect a new parliament, which then chooses a president. 

For the first time since the advent of democracy in 1994, the African National Congress is at risk of losing its outright majority and could be forced to negotiate a coalition. 

"South Africa's general election is a watershed moment in the political history of the country," said Aleix Montana, an analyst at risk intelligence company Verisk Maplecroft.

But many in the country are fed up with high unemployment, currently at 32.9 percent, rampant crime, corruption scandals, and regular power cuts and water shortages. 

The economy grew a meagre 0.6 percent in 2023.

Turnout could prove key, with some models suggesting a low participation might favour the ruling party.

Voter interest has progressively shrunk every five years, since hitting a high of 89 percent in 1999. Turnout at the last elections in 2019 was 66 percent.

South Africans will vote also for provincial legislatures. 

Full results are not expected before the weekend.

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