President Cyril Ramaphosa speaking at the official announcement of the results of the general elections at the IEC results centre in Pretoria. Photo: GCIS

Pretoria - President Cyril Ramaphosa on Saturday called for freedom to govern the country after the official release of the 2019 national elections results, saying democracy had emerged victorious.

"Our people have spoken and have done this clearly and empathetically... Our people have now spoken and all of us are called on to respect the word of our people," Ramaphosa said at the Electoral Commission of South Africa (IEC) results centre in Pretoria during the official announcement.

"We can declare with certainty that democracy has emerged victoriously in our country." Freedom and democracy should reign, he said, thanking all South Africans and stakeholders for making the elections peaceful. Political parties had conducted themselves well, although there was a intense rivalry, he said.

Many people had been affected by the recent floods in parts of the country, but the home affairs department was to be thanked for issuing temporary identity documents to ensure people could vote.

Ramaphosa also thanked the South African Police Service (SAPS) and security companies, as well as the IEC staff. "We watched you on screens wondering if you will falter or buckle. Thank you for serving our people."

Joking with the media in attendance, Ramaphosa granted presidential permission to sleep for a "number of weeks". He also thanked religious leaders who prayed for peaceful elections.

After Ramaphosa had spoken, IEC chairman Glen Mashinini declared the elections free and fair.

African News Agency (ANA)