South Africans went to the polls

South Africans went to the polls Wednesday for local elections dominated by widespread dissatisfaction with lack of services and corruption.

The ruling African National Congress is expected to win a clear majority in the elections, the first since 2000.

However, analysts have predicted that there may be a low turnout as a sign of protest that many municipalities have failed to deliver on promises of better housing, sanitation and roads. There is also widespread resentment over corrupt councilors.

In Cape Town, one of the few areas where the main opposition Democratic Alliance has a good chance of defeating the ANC, there is additional anger over ten days of power outages that have caused havoc and misery. Polling stations said they were equipped with candles and other basic supplies to cope with the outages, forecast to continue through Wednesday.

The government on Tuesday blamed sabotage at the local nuclear reactor for the power cuts. But critics say lack of capacity by the state electricity company Eskom and lack of planning by the city council are to blame.

President Thabo Mbeki was one of the first to cast his vote in Pretoria. "I hope that all our people, all 21 million (registered voters), will come out to vote because we need a very strong and legitimate local government."

Democratic Alliance leader Tony Leon predicted that his party would do better than in 2000.

The ANC won 59 percent of the vote, with the Democratic Alliance on 22 percent and the rest split between smaller parties in 2000. At national elections in 2004, the ANC swept to an overwhelming 70 percent majority, reports the AP.

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