May 12 (GIN) – In a closely watched election, South Africans turned out a decisive “vote for the party,” giving the African National Congress – the party of Mandela – another five years at the nation’s helm.

Despite a recent scandal over costly improvements charged to the taxpayer for the private residence of President Jacob Zuma, the former liberation movement managed to attract 62% of the 18-million votes cast last Wednesday.

Releasing the results, South Africa’s electoral commission reported more than half of all votes went to the African National Congress, followed by the Democratic Alliance with 22.2% and the Economic Freedom Fighters, an ANC breakaway, led by Julius Malema with 6.4%.

These numbers give the party of Mandela fewer members of parliament and fewer members at several provincial legislatures.

The ANC must celebrate its victory, cautioned Tinyiko Maluleke, a university-based political analyst, but also “carefully distinguish between the things to celebrate and the things to ponder”.

“A whole taxi load of ANC parliamentarians are not going back, and it’s nearly a bus full if you add losses from the provinces where ANC lost seats.”

Voters have started asking the ANC tough questions on service delivery, economy, job creation and corruption after 20 years in power.

In response, President Zuma said he will use his fresh election mandate to foster “inclusive economic growth and job creation,” in part through $80 billion in infrastructure spending. “There is a lot that we have to do and we are determined to do more.”

Multimillionaire Cyril Ramaphosa is said to be the leading candidate for deputy president but Mr. Zuma has also hinted that he is considering for a woman for that office. “I think this country is ready for a female president,” he said. “Perhaps in a shorter time than you think.”

While not giving away any secrets, Mr Zuma may have in mind his ex-wife, Nkosazana Dlamini-Zuma, chairwoman of the African Union’s executive arm and South Africa’s former home-affairs minister.