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CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - South Africa risks becoming a failed state if the ruling ANC wins a two-thirds majority in general elections on April 22, the leader of the main opposition Democratic Alliance said on Monday.
Although it faces its toughest electoral challenge since the first post-apartheid elections were held in 1994, the African National Congress expects to win the vote by the two-thirds majority that would give it the power to change the constitution and extend its post-apartheid political dominance.
ANC president Jacob Zuma is also widely expected to become president of Africa's biggest economic power after the national and provincial elections next week.
"The choice in this election is very simply this: will South Africa become a successful democracy or will we end up a failed state?" DA leader Helen Zille told journalists on the final leg of her election campaign.
"And if we give Zuma and the ANC a two-thirds majority we are immensely increasing the likelihood of the downward spiral," she said.
Zille said there were indications the ANC intended to amend the constitution and limit the power of municipalities.
"If the ANC gets a two-thirds majority we would have lost this critical opportunity to ensure that we hold the power-abusers accountable and not give them carte blanche to continue abusing their power more and more," Zille said.
The ANC is still respected for its long fight against white-minority rule, but critics say it has betrayed the struggle since coming to power in 1994.
Analysts say the breakaway Congress of the People (COPE), formed by ANC dissidents, could reduce the ANC's parliamentary dominance in the face of growing public anger over graft, poor services, poverty and crime.
Prosecutors last week dropped corruption charges against Zuma, giving the ANC an election boost and ending years of legal battles for the ruling party's leader.
But analysts say the decision has raised concerns over the independence of the judiciary and will continue to cloud any Zuma presidency because the matter was never settled in court.
Zuma maintains his innocence and says the charges were politically motivated to prevent him becoming president.