History of elections in South Africa

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The South African general elections: 2004

The election was held on 14 April 2004 for 400 seats in the National Assembly. This was the country's third democratic non-racial general elections. In his electoral campaign, President Thabo Mbeki promised to fight unemployment, HIV/Aids and poverty. The ANC campaigned on its achievements during its years in power since it ended white rule in 1994.

Some of the achievement mentioned were that the ANC had the built of 1.6 million houses, provided clean water to 9 million more people and delivered electricity to 70 per cent of South African homes. The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) accused Thabo Mbeki of not handling the country's AIDS crisis very well, not being tough on corruption and crime and failing to create jobs. The DA said that an estimated 5.3 million South Africans were infected with HIV more than in any other country. Unemployment was high amongst Black people, and the gap between the rich and the poor kept on increasing.

The 2004 election was contested by only 21 political parties: African National Congress (ANC), Democratic Alliance (DA), New National Party (NNP), Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP), United Democratic Movement (UDM), African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP), Freedom Front Plus (FF+), United Christian Democratic Party (UCDP), Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), Minority Front (MF), New Labour Party (NLP), United Front (UF), The Organisation Party (TOP), Keep It Straight and Simple Party (KISS), Employment Movement of South Africa (EMSA), Peace and Justice Congress (PJC), National Action (NA), Christian Democratic Party (CDP), Independent Democrats (ID), Azanian People’s Organisation (AZAPO) , and Socialist Party of Azania (SOPA).

The election was held on 14 April 2004. The number of registered voters was 20 674 926, the total number of votes (voter turnout) was 15 863 558, the number of invalid or blank votes was 250 887, and the total number of valid votes was 15 612 671. The ANC obtained 10 880 915 votes, DA obtained 1 931 201 votes, IFP obtained 1 088 664 votes, NNP obtained 257 824 votes, UDM obtained 355 717 votes, ACDP obtained 250 272 votes, FF+ obtained 139 465 votes, UCDP obtained 117 792 votes, PAC obtained 113 512 votes, MF obtained 55 267 votes, and AZAPO obtained 39 116 votes.  

More than 76 per cent of the 20.6 million registered voters cast ballots, a drop from the 89 per cent turnout in 1999.The elections were monitored by more than 3000 local election observers and some 200 international observer missions including the African Union (AU), the Southern African Development Community Parliamentary Forum (SADCPF), and the Electoral Institute of Southern Africa (EISA).

The ANC won 279 seats in the National Assembly, DA won 50 seats, IFP won 28 seats, NNP won 7 seats, ID won 7 seats, UDM won 9 seats, ACDP won 7 seats, FF+ won 4 seats, UCDP won 3 seats, PAC won 3 seats, MF won 2 seats, and AZAPO won 1 seat.   

On 23 April 2004, the new National Assembly convened its first sitting. Thabo Mbeki was elected unopposed for a second term. The Speaker of the National Assembly, Baleka Kgositsile Mbete, was also elected unopposed. Baleka Kgositsile-Mbete, the former Deputy Speaker, took over from Frene Ginwala, who stepped down after 10 years at the helm. Thabo Mbeki was sworn in on 27 April 2004, the day South Africa celebrated a decade of multiracial democracy.

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References:
• Commonwealth Observer Group and Secretariat, (1999). National and Provincial elections in South Africa. 2nd June 1999.
•  Election dates South Africa. Journal of African elections. February to July 2009. Johannesburg: Electoral Institute of Southern Africa.
• Lodge, T. (1995).The South African General Election, April 1994: Results, Analysis and Implications. African Affairs, Vol. 94, No. 377, pp. 471-500.
• Southall, R and John Daniel, J. (2009). The South African election of 2009. Africa Spectrum, Vol. 44, No. 2, pp.111-124.
• Southall, R. (1994). The South African Elections of 1994: The Remaking of a Dominant-Party State. The Journal of Modern African Studies, Vol. 32, No. 4, pp. 629-655. 

Last updated : 14-Apr-2014

This article was produced for South African History Online on 27-Feb-2014