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National Assembly

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Parliament name Parliament
Structure of parliament Bicameral
Chamber name National Assembly
Related chamber (for bicameral parliaments) National Council of Provinces
Dates of election / renewal (from/to) 22 April 2009
Purpose of elections Elections were held for all the seats of the National Assembly on the normal expiry of the members' term of office.
The April 2009 elections were the fourth to be held since the end of apartheid in 1994. At stake were 400 seats in the National Assembly (lower chamber of parliament). Parliament was due to elect the country's new president after the elections.

In the previous elections, held in April 2004, the ANC, led by then President Thabo Mbeki, won 279 seats. The Democratic Alliance (DA) came in a distant second with 50 seats, followed by the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) with 28 seats. Nine other parties won fewer than ten seats each.

Under the ANC Government, the country of 48.8 million inhabitants achieved economic development and many citizens benefited from the "black empowerment programme". However, the unemployment rate remained high - at 22 per cent - and around 34 per cent of citizens were reportedly living on less than US$ 2 per day. Opposition forces criticized the Government for not doing enough for all poor citizens; their allegation that only ANC supporters benefited from the programme was denied by the ANC. How to tackle the high crime rate (some 50 murders and 150 rapes reported every day) and provide adequate means to the estimated 5.7 million people affected by HIV remained the main social issues.

In December 2007, President Mbeki lost the ANC's leadership to ANC Vice-President Jacob Zuma. Mr. Zuma had been sacked by Mr. Mbeki as Deputy President of the country over charges of financial impropriety. In September 2008, Mr. Mbeki resigned as President over allegations that he had interfered in a corruption case against Mr. Zuma. He was succeeded by Mr. Kgalema Motlanthe, one of Mr. Zuma's close allies, which was widely seen as an interim move until the general election. In November, ANC members who were dissatisfied with the way Mr. Mbeki had been forced out of office, broke away to form a new party, the Congress of the People (COPE) under the co-leadership of former Defence Minister Mosiuoa Lekota and former Gauteng Province Premier Mbhazima Shilowa.

On 13 February 2009, President Motlanthe called elections for 22 April. Pursuant to the Government's 50:50 gender equality policy, the major parties endorsed more women candidates than in the previous elections. In all, 9,130 candidates, including 3,511 women, representing 40 parties ran in the 2009 elections.

The ANC ran on its record, citing economic development and support for the poor in the form of housing, water and electricity. Mr. Zuma promised to enhance education in order to reduce the high illiteracy rate. The party ran a TV ad for the first time, showing the image of its former charismatic leader, Nelson Mandela, being released from prison. Former president Mandela made a rare appearance at an ANC rally and renewed his support for the party.

Fighting corruption became a key electoral issue for opposition parties during the campaign. The ANC came under heavy criticism over corruption charges against Mr. Zuma, who had been accused of accepting bribes from a French arms company. State prosecutors dropped the charges in April, two weeks before the elections.

The DA, led by Ms. Helen Zille, pledged to run a "clean" government. It accused Mr. Zuma of having "bullied" the State prosecutors into withdrawing the corruption charges and filed a legal challenge against the decision. It promised to create more jobs, provide better education and tackle crime. Formed in 2000 following a merger of the Democratic Party and the New National Party, the DA principally draws its support from white and colored people - who account for 4.2 and 4.3 million inhabitants respectively - and has its stronghold in Western Cape province, the centre of the tourist industry.

The COPE pledged to push for the reinstatement of the corruption charges against Mr. Zuma. Its leader said the ANC had betrayed the "dream of anti-apartheid struggle leaders". The COPE promised to fight crime by introducing a "three strikes" policy, whereby career criminals would face life imprisonment for repeat offences of rape, robbery or murder. Although the COPE reportedly struggled to run an effective election campaign, its emergence changed South Africa's political landscape and challenged the ANC's two-thirds majority in Parliament. Both parties draw their support mainly from black South Africans, who make up over 77% of the population.

The IFP, founded in 1975 by Mr. Mangosuthu Buthelezi, is supported by the Zulu community. It also campaigned on a platform to fight corruption and crime.

A total of 23,000 police officers and soldiers were deployed to ensure security. The run-up to the election was relatively peaceful, although both the ANC and the IFP alleged interference by the other party. The DA, the COPE and the IFP all accused the ANC of vote buying and claimed that it had distributed government food parcels during the campaign. The ANC dismissed the allegation.

More women (12,722,622) than men (10,459,375) registered in the 2009 elections. Overall, 77.30 per cent of the 23 million registered voters turned out at the polls, creating long queues at many polling stations.

The polls were monitored by 355 international observers and hailed as free and fair by the African Union (AU) and the Southern African Development Community (SADC). The AU praised the turnout but recommended that the Independent Electoral Commission find a solution to the problem of long queues in future elections.

Thirteen parties won parliamentary representation. The ANC won 264 seats, just short of the two-thirds majority. The DA and the COPE followed with 67 and 30 seats respectively. The IFP won 18 seats. Other parties took fewer than four seats each.

On 6 May, the newly elected National Assembly held its first session and elected Mr. Max Vuyisile Sisulu (ANC) as its new Speaker and Mr. Zuma as the country's new President. The following day, the National Council of Provinces re-elected Mr. Mninwa Johannes Mahlangu (ANC) as its Chairperson. On 9 May, Mr. Zuma was sworn in as President.
Voter turnout
Round no 122 April 2009
Number of registered electors
Blank or invalid ballot papers
Valid votes
17'919'966 (77.3%)

Distribution of seats
Round no 1
Political Group Total
African National Congress (ANC) 264
Democratic Alliance (DA) 67
Congress of the People (COPE) 30
Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP) 18
Independent Democrats (ID) 4
Freedom Front Plus (FF+) 4
United Democratic Movement (UDM) 4
African Christian Democratic Party (ACDP) 3
United Christian Democratic Party (UCDP) 2
African Peoples' Convention (APC) 1
Azanian People's Organisation (AZAPO) 1
Minority Front (MF) 1
Pan Africanist Congress (PAC) 1
Distribution of seats according to sex
Percent of women
Distribution of seats according to age
Distribution of seats according to profession
- National Assembly (11.05.2009, 24.01.2012, 01.01.2014)
- http://www.elections.org.za/

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