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Zuma sees gains in South African local polls

President Jacob Zuma said the ruling African National Congress would make gains in South Africa’s local elections Wednesday, despite opinion polls showing a slip in popularity.

“I am very optimistic because we have made serious advances. We will surprise many,” Zuma said after casting his ballot in his home village of Nkandla, according to the Sapa news agency.

The ANC, the party of Nelson Mandela which led the liberation struggle, is expected to romp to victory in most parts of the country, but one opinion poll tipped it to win 58.9 percent, down seven points from the 2006 local polls.

The opposition Democratic Alliance (DA) is set to make gains to take nearly 20 percent, the poll said.

Zuma acknowledged the growing frustrations with government’s performance, particularly in poor areas where residents regularly protest the lack of water, electricity and jobs.

“We want water, electricity and proper roads in this area. We want electricity to cover everybody,” Zuma said.

“Government must create conditions for people to put food on the table.”

The ANC currently controls all major cities except Cape Town, which it lost five years ago to the DA.