Russian Operatives Allegedly Tried to Influence South Africa's Elections
Recently leaked documents show plans that intended to help the ruling ANC win by a large majority.
Yesterday, South Africans headed to the polls to cast their votes in what has been described as the most contested elections the country has had in years.
Whilst the elections went smoothly for the most part, documents have surfaced which outline the plans of Russian operatives allegedly led by Yevgeny Prigozhin–a businessman from St Petersburg–to ensure the ruling African National Congress (ANC) wins the elections. Prigozhin is the owner of the Internet Research Agency which was reported to be responsible for supporting Trump during the 2016 elections in America.
Preliminary polls held before yesterday's elections consistently showed that the ruling ANC maintained well above 50 percent of the vote and in one poll, even reached 60 percent. However, the leaked Russian documents claim that the ANC would have struggled to maintain a majority above 50 percent of the vote.
"To ensure a more favorable outcome for the ANC, the Russians allegedly planned to set up a think tank to influence the results through public rhetoric, generating and disseminating video content, coordinating with a 'loyal pool of journalists' and producing pro-ANC videos."
Whilst it is unclear whether these Russian operatives actually followed through with the plans, the ANC has not been found to be involved.
News24 reports that the ANC is currently in the lead with 55.01 percent followed by the Democratic Alliance (DA) and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) at 26.04 and 8.27 percent respectively. The ANC has lost support in a number of provinces compared to the results of the 2014 elections whilst the EFF and the DA have strengthened their opposition in other provinces.