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ANC victory in South Africa a watershed for party

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As the final vote countdown for South Africa's fourth democratic election wound down today, the ruling African National Congress (ANC) appeared tantalizingly close to clinching a two-thirds majority that would allow it to change the Constitution if it wished to do so.

No one expects any radical constitutional amendments from the ANC, which has had a stranglehold on this country's politics since emerging victorious over the apartheid government in 1994. And the soon-to-be president, Jacob Zuma, has pledged to serve only one five-year term. But the two-thirds mark is a psychological watershed for both the party and its opponents.

The strong ANC showing of more than 66 percent was a surprise to many analysts, who had predicted serious fallout from the controversy surrounding Mr. Zuma, whose prosecution for corruption was dropped on a technicality just weeks before election day.

"The ANC's level of mobilization and organization was absolutely amazing," says filmmaker Jihan el-Tahri, whose documentary, "Behind the Rainbow," released last year, chronicled the party's evolution from a liberation movement to a government.

Ms. el-Tahri credited the boost to Nelson Mandela, whose well-timed appearances for the party galvanized ANC loyalists. "He was there with his children and grandchildren showing support just by his presence, and that meant a lot," she says.


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