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Last Updated: Tuesday, 13 April, 2004, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
Mbeki confident of ANC poll win
Thabo Mbeki meets with members of the Tugela Ferry Community near Pietermaritzburg, South Africa, on 29 January 2004
Mbeki, right, insists South Africans trust the ANC to bring change
South Africans are sure to re-elect the ruling African National Congress on Wednesday, President Thabo Mbeki says.

In an interview with the BBC, Mr Mbeki conceded that for many people, life had not seen great material improvements.

But he insisted voters could see change was "coming", and said there was a "tremendous positive mood amongst all South Africans".

Mr Mbeki has campaigned hard ahead of Wednesday's elections, despite the ANC's runaway lead in opinion polls.

"The ANC is working united and saying to people: you must vote for the ANC," Mr Mbeki told the BBC's correspondent Barnaby Phillips.

"And they will, the poor, they will," he said.

The ANC has been in power since South Africa's first multi-racial elections 10 years ago.

'Change coming'

Many South Africans complain that improvements to their lives in terms of issues including housing, unemployment and crime have been slight.
THE PAST DECADE
Achievements
1.6m new houses built for poor
Stable economy, low inflation
70% households electrified
9m access to water
Challenges
30% unemployment
5.3m with HIV/Aids
Massive wealth inequality
Crime

But Mr Mbeki said people still had confidence that the ANC would deliver.

"They can see that there is progress.... [They say,] 'Sure, I might still be living in a shack like this personally, but it's clear that things have changed quite radically, it's coming to me'.

"So there's confidence that the future will be better."

Aids

Critics of the government say it has failed to redress the balance between rich and poor and tackle the spread of HIV/Aids.

Aids groups estimate that more than five million people in South Africa are currently living with HIV.

A report issued on Tuesday says that some 800,000 people will be unable to vote either because they are too ill or are looking after someone who is too ill with Aids.

Result

The main electoral battleground is KwaZulu-Natal, which the ANC is hoping to take from the Zulu nationalist Inkatha Freedom Party.

The authorities are deploying more than 20,000 police and troops to ensure the violence that has marred previous polls there is not repeated.

Last week three people were killed and correspondents say parts of the province are still very tense.

The contest is also expected to be close in the Western Cape.

But in other areas, the ANC is predicted to be on course for a resounding victory.

Thousands of local election observers are being deployed to ensure voting is free and fair.


WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Barnaby Phillips
"In the din of the campaign, the voices of doubt are often drowned out"




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