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ANC keeps power in South Africa but scandals cost it votes

President Cyril Ramaphosa during a pre-World Economic Forum breakfast briefing on January 18, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa. 
Moeletsi Mabe| Sunday Times | Gallo Images | Getty Images

The African National Congress retained control of South Africa's parliament but its share of the vote fell, a rebuke from voters fed up with corruption scandals and racial inequalities that remain entrenched a generation after the party took power.

Provisional results on Saturday showed the ruling party secured 57.51% of the votes in Wednesday's general election. The main opposition party Democratic

Alliance (DA) picked up 20.76% and the leftist Economic Freedom Fighters garnered 10.79%, the Independent Electoral Commission said on its website.

The ANC's victory secures it enough seats in parliament to give President Cyril Ramaphosa another five years in office but may leave him short of ammunition to battle party rivals who oppose his reforms to galvanise the economy and counter graft.

It was the worst electoral performance by the late Nelson Mandela's former liberation movement, which has governed South Africa since the country's first free election marked the end of white minority rule in 1994.

The ANC had not previously won less than 60% of the vote in a national poll. The provisional results also showed the ANC won a tight provincial race in Gauteng, where South Africa's biggest city and commercial centre Johannesburg and the administrative capital Pretoria are located, with 50.19% of the vote.

Ramaphosa, who replaced scandal-plagued Jacob Zuma as president in February 2018, had aimed to re-engage ANC voters whose support has been eroded by faltering efforts to address corruption, unemployment and disparities in housing, land and services.